Conservatism ≠ Legalism? Seeking a Definition of and Defense for Conservatism

Reflecting upon this week and the emphasis on who and what is conservatism, I think it is important to rehash the whole idea. I say this because I believe that too often we confuse legalism with conservatism, that if we are fundamentalists then that makes us right. There are two instances that happened that brought the idea of conservatism to my mind:

First is Dr. Ronnie Floyd’s recent blogpost in which he says the following:

“In a three-candidate race, I came in second; with the third candidate deciding to get in eight days before the race, which split the strong conservative vote.”

Before the election, there was the attempt to make Dr. Frank Page look liberal in light of Drs. Floyd and Sutton. It is obvious that in the mind of Floyd that he considers Page a liberal while Sutton is the conservative alternative. But hoes does Floyd or any other SBCer make the determination of what constitutes a conservative? Does he have to be an “insider?” Endorsed by popular mega-church pastors? Supernaturally drafted by God? It is plain as day that Page is not a liberal as he believes in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. But this alone is not the litmus test of conservatism, at least not for many Southern Baptists.

Second is of course the resolution on alcohol. When the debate over the resolution was taking place, every person who opposed it did so with Scripture as their basis and integrity as their goal. Not a single person who was for it could appeal to God’s Word (which we are supposed to believe in its sufficiency, perspicuity, inerrancy, authority, etc.) but rather made the argument from consequence and moralism. The assumption is that if you are opposed to the alcohol resolution you are a liberal; however, the fact is those who are opposing the resolution are not “liberal” but biblical—and that is conservatism. Adding to the Scripture mandates and resolutions is not conservatism—it’s legalism. Furthermore, let me provide you a few quotes from some leading conservatives who went on record against the alcohol resolution:

Tom Ascol:

“I do not think that we can be more holy than Jesus Christ.” Ascol added that “Christ turned water into wine.” Later on his blog, Ascol writes ” . . . the resolution struck me as ill-conceived and unbiblical. We have enough problems dealing with real sins. We certainly don’t need to manufacture more sins out of cultural preferences. When an amendment was offered urging that no Southern Baptist be allowed to serve on any SBC board if he consumes acohol as a beverage, I simply could not sit idly by.”

Justin Taylor:

I want to hate what God hates and love what God loves. And this I know beyond the shadow of a doubt: God hates legalism as much as he hates alcoholism. If any of you still wonders why I go on supporting this amendment, after hearing all the tragic stories about lives ruined through alcohol, the reason is that when I go home at night and close my eyes and let eternity rise in my mind I see ten million more people in hell because of legalism than because of alcoholism. And I think that is a literal understatement. . . . Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn’t look like one.

  • Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world.
  • Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one.
  • Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength.
  • Alcoholics don’t feel welcome in church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church.

Therefore, what we need in this church is not front end regulations to try to keep ourselves pure. We need to preach and pray and believe that “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither teetotalism nor social drinking, neither legalism nor alcoholism is of any avail with God, but only a new creation (a new heart)” (Gal. 6:15; 5:6). The enemy is sending against us every day the Sherman tank of the flesh with its cannons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. If we try to defend ourselves or our church with peashooter regulations we will be defeated even in our apparent success. (emphasis mine)

Joe Thorn:

At the big show, the resolution on refusing the gift of God (calling for abstinence from alcohol) overwhelmingly passed, but a number of courageous men spoke against it, encouraging biblical thought that should naturally flow from a belief in both the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. . . . You can’t raise a generation of men and women on the infallible/inerrant word of God and expect them to remain comfortable while introducing extra-biblical law and denying our Christian liberty.

Mark Lauterbach:

What makes a rule like that evil is simply this — we have no right to bind the conscience of others by adding to the Word of God. Matt 15 makes that perfectly clear. If we do not trust the sufficiency of the Word of God as given, then we are questioning the character of God. It also shows we do not believe that Scripture is sufficient to guide and protect us — we must add additional “fences”. After 25 years of ministry I think legalism is one of the greatest evils I have ever fought. It looks so moral — and is so full of self-righteousness and unbelief. It is the greater battle of my own heart.

Jeff Young (Corinth Baptist Church, Ravenna, TX):

” . . . the older members of the SBC has won the battle to proclaim the Bible is ‘authoritative and sufficient, but when we pass extra-biblical resolutions such as this, we pull the rug out from underneath that teaching.'”

John Armstrong:

The SBC has approved 57 resolutions against alcohol since 1886. One could almost say these Southern Baptists have alcohol on their minds a lot of the time. One leader referred to Baptists taking “the high road in our walk with the Lord Jesus.” This means, by obvious deduction, that anyone who does drink takes “the low road.” I grew up in a congregation that took this stand but many of the deacons and leaders did, in reality, drink. There was never any serious attempt to enforce any of this strong rhetoric in most cases.

John Piper:

Alcohol abuse is a great evil in our land. And no one can reasonably construe the proposed amendment to countenance such abuse. Not only that, I regard total abstinence generally as a wise and preferable way to live in our land today. It’s the way I live, and the way I will teach my sons to live. The proposed amendment is not designed to encourage anyone to drink alcoholic beverages. It is designed to drive us to Biblical, spiritual self-examination in view of the stupendous fact that we are God’s dwelling and are called to love one another and to build up faith wherever we can. The requirement of total abstinence, on the other hand, is heeded by millions of unbelievers and unspiritual church attenders. . . . The church should take a strong stand against such an evil and such an enormous destructive force, but should not include this or any such evil in its by-laws. My reason for this is first, that you cannot legislate righteousness or make people more holy by having laws, one any more than another.

Martin Luther:

We must not…reject [or] condemn anything because it is abused. This would result in utter confusion. God has commanded us in Deut. 4 not to lift up our eyes to the sun (and the moon and the stars), etc., that we may not worship them, for they are created to serve all nations. But there are many people who worship the sun and the stars. Therefore we propose to rush in and pull the sun and stars from the skies. No, we had better let it be. Again, wine and women bring many a man to misery and make a fool of him (Ecclus. 19:2; 31:30); so we kill all the women and pour out all the wine. Again, gold and silver cause much evil, so we condemn them. Indeed, if we want to drive away our worst enemy, the one who does us the most harm, we shall have to kill ourselves, for we have no greater enemy than our own heart, as the prophet, Jer. 17, says, “The heart of man is crooked,” or, as I take the meaning, “always twisting to one side.” And so on – what would we not do?

-From his fourth Invocavit sermon from 1522, found in Works [American edition] 51:85.

Now I know that the blogosphere is not a fair playing field for Southern Baptists as many are still ignorant of blogging altogether, but I have yet to find a single blogger or comment that supports this resolution. I have yet to hear a clear and convincing argument on why Southern Baptists should have a resolution on alcohol. What I have heard are thoughtful, biblical, and historically contextual responses that reveal the danger, hypocrisy, and unbiblical nature of this resolution.

This further shows why we really need to define conservatism these days. Furthermore, is there a point when being a conservative is a bad thing? We are all too quick to run from rank liberalism, but are we willing to shun dogged fundamentalism when it contradicts or violates Scripture? With all this talk about the “Conservative Resurgence”, conservative candidates, and conservative ideals, I think we must first go back and establish a foundational meaning and basis of understanding with conservatism is altogether, lest we automatically and uncritically assume it to be right all the time and equivocal to the likes of legalism and extreme fundamentalism. Certain questions must be answered such as, “What defines us?” “Why do we believe what we believe?” “Are we willing to be critical of ourselves when we are wrong or unbiblical?” “How will we face the issues (and controversies) in the future?” As I was collecting my thoughts about this post, the thought kept running through my mind, “I wonder if in the next few years Southern Baptists are going to have to revisit why the Conservative Resurgence happened 27 years ago and rediscover what conservatism is all about.” The case for conservatism is up for grabs today, and those who want to subscribe conservatism with such fundamentalistic and legalistic yokes, the pressure is upon them to prove it thus.

******************************************************
A couple of resources that might interest you on this matter include:

Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism by Carl F.H. Henry
Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism by George Marsden
Christ & Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr

Correction: The above quote attributed to Justin Taylor was not a quote from Taylor himself, rather it was from John Piper and his sermon already referenced. Piper’s sermon can also be found in his book Brothers We Are Not Professionals (chapter 21).

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Southern Baptist Convention

68 Comments on “Conservatism ≠ Legalism? Seeking a Definition of and Defense for Conservatism”

  1. scott hill Says:

    This is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs. This post included. Keep em coming.

  2. centuri0n Says:

    Let me go on-record here (and I will likely blog on this this week because it has me worked up) that the dumbest thing I have ever witnessed in my life in Christ is the current SBC resolution against alcohol — which somehow passed.

    Has alcohol actually caused harm in our society? Why yes — it has! For the record, so has divorce — probably much more than alcohol. And yet the SBC will never draft a resoltioon which will seek to make divorce illegal in the U.S.

    Problematically for the SBC, Jesus drank wine — in fact, one of his miracles was making more wine for a wedding feast. That’s not saying we should be carrying on a campaign to get everyone a drink: it’s saying that wine is not the source of evil, but the heart of man is the source of evil.

    It’s funny, I think, that if we had a more reformed-bent convention, we would stay focussed on the missiology which would combat the evil men perpetrate in using alcohol by making them more Christ-like through evangelism and discipleship. Unfortunately, we think men are good and alcohol is evil.

    Sheesh.

  3. Timmy Says:

    Being that SBF receives more exposure than my blog, I was hoping to hear from at least one conservative who actually voted for the alcohol resolution. Have they all gone into hiding or have they started reading their Bibles?

    . . . and before anyone seeks to question my commitment to the SBC or conservative credentials, please read some of what I have written for the past 1 1/2 years. 🙂

  4. Josh Buice Says:

    Timmy,

    First, I truly understand where you are coming from with your post regarding the alcohol resolution. I believe as you do – legalism is a deadly force just as alcohol is in our day. The point that many of your readers as well as some of the people you cite fail to consider is the true definition of wine in the day’s of Christ. What was the purpose of having a fermented drink that Jesus and His disciples partook of? Was it for the purpose of becoming tipsy or buzzed? I think not. Did Christ and His disciples have GE products such as refrigerators for preservation purposes? No – unfortunately, they did not have those luxuries that we enjoy today. Therefore, it seems overwhelmingly clear that Christ and His disciples [along with all people in their day] used wine as a widely accepted drink due to the fact that it killed the bacteria which was undoubtedly in the water [no filtration system, no refrigeration etc…].

    Dr. John MacArthur says, \”You couldn\’t drink the water without running some kind of risk. Even today in Third World countries, the first thing they tell you when you get off the plane is, \”Don\’t drink the water!\” Water has the capability to nurture certain things that can infect your body–bacteria, etc. So generally speaking, water needs to be purified and that was true in ancient times as well. As a result of that, unless it was a clear running stream somewhere, any kind of standing water would be potentially a health hazard. They drank the juice of various kinds of fruit. It might be a citrus fruit, it might be something like a pear or an apple, and very commonly it was grapes. The common drink came from these fruits….. The first of which was to mix the wine with water, as much as 8 parts of water to 1 part of wine. This of course, acted almost as a disinfectant for the water, rather than a drinking of wine, because mixed 8 to 1 there wasn\’t much there. But, the fermented wine with its disinfectant capability would purify the water, so the water would be then more drinkable and less potentially harmful…..To mix wine with water would be a cardinal sin today, anybody who is \”into wine\” would tell you that, that\’s what I have been told (I certainly don\’t know it first hand). Today you don\’t make wine out of concentrate; you make orange juice and grape juice in your kitchen out of it because you buy the little concentrated stuff and you mix it, and that\’s what we do today. But the kind of wine that we call \”wine\” today, rather than grape juice or fruit juice, the kind of wine that we have today is not the same as the kind that would normally be consumed in Biblical times [http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/wine.htm].\”

    Therefore, I think it should be noted that our wine is not the same wine as typically used in the Bible days for normal consumption. You certainly did not find Christ sitting around drinking wine for the purpose of a buzz talking with His disciples about His “Christian-Liberty” in the matter. What is the point of drinking alcoholic beverages? Is it for the buzz? I would think so! Is it for the taste? Why not non-alcoholic?

    I am not a legalist – just one who stands against alcohol. It has no business in a Christian’s life. The world is consumed with the stuff – It appears on all television stations, in the magazines, and in the stores in which we frequent. Whether one likes it or not – alcohol consumption is not something that is characterized as a Christian behavior in society. Therefore, we must abstain in order to exalt Christ. We as Christians have been given a command – Do not conform to the world!

    For the glory of God and the God of glory!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  5. Nathan White Says:

    Cent,

    “we think men are good and alcohol is evil”

    Excellent point. So many in the SBC think this whole Calvinism thing is blown out of proportion, and that it really doesn’t matter what camp you fall into. However, our view on total depravity goes a long way towards our position in other areas…

  6. Nathan White Says:

    Hey Josh,

    While I agree with your statement (and the MacArthur quote concerning wine in those days), I do not see where the strength of the wine really comes into play in the scriptures. That is, would the Pharisees have called Jesus a ‘drunkard’ and a ‘wine-bibber’ if the wine was really weak and not intended to have some sort of effect on the body? Or, would the Holy Spirit have said that an elder must ‘not be given to MUCH wine’ if the wine was pretty much harmless in the first place? Arguing that the drinking of wine in those days didn’t produce much (if any) of a ‘buzz’ makes these passages pretty much meaningless.

    I share the sentiment that we are better off staying away from alcohol in this society, but setting rules against it is not the solution –even within our own convictions. Scripture doesn’t even condemn total abstinence in the office of an elder, so we should definitely not take that extra step just because we think things have changed since then.

    Men abused alcohol just the same then as they do now. Nothing has changed outside of scale, nothing. Man is still evil, and he will still use anything to express that evil.

    SDG

  7. Kevin Griggs Says:

    Great points have been stated. What continues to flow through my mind is that Christ himself would not be eligible to serve as an entity head or serve as pastor in most SBC churches because he partook of the substance alcohol, regardless of the percentage the drink contained of alcohol. If the substance itself is evil, then it would have defiled Christ and he would not have been sinless.

  8. Timmy Says:

    Josh,

    I appreciate your comments. In all that I have written concerning the alcohol resolution, I in no way am condoning or appealing to the usage of alcohol consumptoin by a Christian. I believe that it is in the best interests of the Christian and the gospel that alcohol not be incorporated in a Christian’s life (at least not publicly) nor do I accept the “Christian liberty” defense most of the time.

    If you look at the resolution, it is about the *abuse* of alcohol, not the usage of it. However, in the eyes of everyone who will see and read it, it will be assumed that this resolution is a mandate for tee totalism. You simply cannot speak where Scripture is silent or where Scripture is in the affirmative. What the SBC is doing with this resolution is undercutting our belief in the sufficiency of Scripture and enacting politicies that more of a knee-jerk reaction to our culture predicated by a moralistic conscious rather than a serious, singular, and substative argument from Scripture. Everyone who spoke out against resolution appealed to Scripture; on the other hand, those in favor of it simply appealed to the devastating effects of it. One was biblical; the other was pragmatic.

    I have heard several messages about Christian and alcoholism, most notably from Johnny Hunt. The argument made about the nature of the wine sounds sophisticated, but I find it really unconvincing as Nathan pointed out in the previous comment. Consider the wine Jesus “manufactured, produced, and distributed” in John 2. He made the best wine that wedding party ever had. Now what made Jesus’ wine so great? Was it diluted?

    Over the course of my life I have seen many friends and some of my family destroyed by alcohol. Alcoholism is a deadly disease no doubt. But as Piper pointed out, I believe there will be ten times more people in hell because of legalism than alcoholism. CFurthermore, what about the devastating impact of divorce in Southern Baptist life? Why don’t we talk about that? What befuddles me more than anything else is why, why is the SBC spending their time at a national Convention debating alcohol? Is this what really matters to us? What are we telling our world when we are more concerned with the abuse of alcohol than the person and work of Jesus Christ which is under attack in our culture?

  9. Josh Buice Says:

    Bruce Lackey says, “John 2, the miracle of turning water into wine, does not require that it be alcoholic. Many insist that it was, on the basis of verse 10, which says, \”Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.\” They would say that, in those days, it was common to serve the best alcoholic wine at first, saving the worst until later, when men\’s taste had been dulled by much drinking. But the point is just the opposite here! These people could definitely recognize that the wine, which Jesus made, was much better than what they had been served at first. This could not have been possible, if they were already well on their way to becoming intoxicated! The fact is, neither the wine that they had at first, nor that which Christ made, was alcoholic.”

    I say —- If it was alcoholic – it was not for the purpose of a buzz – it was for the purpose of the purification. However, one must ask the question – did Christ need to have alcohol to purify bad juice or could he simply create purified juice which was non-alcoholic?

    Finally, I would ask Nathan – why does the New Testament use different words for wine and strong drink? It would seem to indicate a difference in the use and common purpose of the word.

    Therefore, I stand in a position to suggest that the wine of our day [being used for the purpose of a buzz etc…] would stand as strong drink according to the Bible. The Word always condemns strong drink!

    Romans 12:1-2 – Be not conformed to the World.

    If Romans 14:21 says “[It is] good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [any thing] whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Wouldn’t that be a clear command to abstain? Is there ever a case whereby young Christians would not be given a stumbling block due to the actions of a drinking Christian? I have yet to discover a case……

    Therefore, I stand in a total abstainance camp – not based upon legalism – but based upon the commands listed in the Scriptures above. I do so for the glory of God.

    Let it be clear – I appreciate your work on the web – I read often and enjoy it greatly. Keep up the good work – and I will continue to read with great joy. Just because I disagree with you on this issue does not mean I don’t appreciate your work.

    For the glory of God and the God of glory!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  10. Gene Says:

    Brother Ronnie’s attack on Floyd gets me. Think about this: he is insinuating that the man who led GA Convention to adopt the BFM 2000 is not a solid conservative. What’s up with that?

    Then, while we were told Ronnie received a Macedonian vision telling him to run for SBC president, he then blames Jerry Sutton for splitting the vote. I must say the contrast is stark. Oh, and why does God get the praise for the nomination and man get the blame for the defeat?

    Also, notice the unspoken assumption: that had Sutton not run, Brother Ronnie would have picked up his votes. Err, no. I personally know men who were planning to vote for Page until Jerry Sutton decided to run. If Sutton had not run, Page would likely have still won, but by an even larger margin. Not only that, even if Dr. Sutton had not run, if Brother Ronnie had gotten all the votes, he still would not have won the election. I suspect this is why he wishes to question Brother Frank’s credentials now.

    As to the resolution, the resolution is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, what folks often miss is that a trustee from TX, from I believe FBC Ft. Forth used comments that linked “holiness” and “purity” with a position of abstinence. This is the definition of legalism. In addition, language was added to affect trustees. This was likely a swipe at Wade Burleson, so this was personal. Secondly, this resolution passed while the resolution on statistical reporting and church discipline failed. Now, think on this, the SBC passed a resolution for abstinence using language in debate linking it to increased holiness and purity, while they chose not to consider the resolution on integrity in reporting and church discipline, because the delinquent members are allegedly “some of our best contacts for evangelism.”

  11. Gene Says:

    Josh, you asked about Romans 14:21. In that context, no, it would not. It would be an exhortation not to drink in front of a brother of weaker conscience, not an exhortation to abstain altogether. The text is dealing with a matter of Christian liberty, in that case, the eating food sacrificed to idols. These texts always assume that the one of stronger conscience in the matter is correct with respect to the issue itself, but he is exhorted not to practice the activity in question in the presence of the brother of weaker conscience. The brother of weaker conscience is also exhorted not to make a big fuss about it and so divide the church, because the conflict destroys the unity of the body and thus the testimony of the church to the unbelieving world.

  12. Josh Buice Says:

    Gene,

    So drinking alcohol for the purpose for a buzz in private is supported by Scripture? Is that what you are saying? Is it just up for Christian liberty?

    Josh Buice

  13. johnMark Says:

    Josh,

    Who has said that Christians should drink alcohol to get a buzz? Do you believe this is what those opposed to this SBC abstinence resolution are saying?

    Also, in quoting Romans 12:1 to apply it to drinking alcohol, why stop there? How far are you willing to (mis)take this verse? If we applied it in the manner in which you are advocating we’d all soon be Amish or sorts.

    Mark

  14. Nathan White Says:

    Hey Josh,

    Brother, I hate to even contend with you because I am in almost 100% agreement with you in theory and in practice (from a standpoint of my own convictions). I’m just opposed to expecting others to abide by the same principles.

    I do recognize a difference between wine and strong drink. However, to say that wine had little or no alcohol is simply based on an ambiguous speculation of the culture during that time. It cannot be verified one way or another, and scripture does not make this clear, so we should be careful in viewing the ‘wine’ passages through these lenses.

    Again, if wine had little or no alcohol, then the scripture that admonishes elders to not be ‘given to much wine’ would be puzzling. For if the ‘strong drink’ is what really led to drunkenness during this time, why even mention wine?

    I believe that the ‘strong drink’ in those days is the same as the strong drink in our day: high alcohol volume which is used specifically for making one drunk. Not all alcoholic beverages serve this purpose. Liquor on the other hand, certainly does.

    Next, I would agree that offending or causing a brother to stumble play a significant role in the decision to drink or not. However, in the privacy of one’s home I do not see this as an issue. (I only make this distinction because of our culture at this time, NOT because of alcohol in general).

    Lastly, I would take a small issue with your use of ‘conformed to the world’. Not because I disagree completely with your application, but because we need to be careful not to misuse these verses. It is no secret that many fundamentalist use the term ‘the world’ to mean everything from movies, to sports, to stylish trends in clothing, etc. However, John specifically defines this term as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Furthermore, I would argue that Paul uses this term as referring to ideologies and common beliefs and attitudes of the lost culture. I think we should be cautious in throwing in alcohol and stuff under that term. Certainly the misuse of alcohol can be termed worldly, but the substance itself certainly is not. And I would argue that even the misuse itself is only worldly because of the attitudes and mindset that is driving that misuse.

    SDG

  15. Gordan Says:

    I think any man who believes a single ice-cold beer is sinful and evil in and of itself has probably never worked hard on a summer day even once in his life.

    The wine mentioned in Scripture had to have some amount of alcohol greater-than-trace, or no one would’ve ever drank enough of it to get drunk. And they did get drunk off it, make no mistake. What then is the Biblical alcoholic percentage at which consumption becomes sinful? 2%? 5%?

    And Josh, you need to go back and read your Old Testament again. The Law COMMANDED Israel to drink wine and “strong drink” in the Lord’s presence during feasts. You are quite mistaken.

  16. Timmy Says:

    Josh,

    Let me first say that you disagreeing with any of us does not mean that you will not be liked by any of us at SBF! Rather, it causes us to love and appreciate our brothers even more who are willing to wrestle with us and challenge one another in upholding the integrity of the truth and faithfulness ot the gospel. In some places (say the SBC elites for example) dissent or disagreement results in name calling, such as liberal, antinomian, etc. or saying that one is doing the work of the devil. I assure you that you will not get that here. 🙂 You comments and critique are not only accepted but welcomed, especially given that you do so with such a reasonable and gracious spirit.

    I, too, am in the total abstinenance camp in that I do not drink alcohol, but where I disagree is to legislate my personal convictions over another when there is no Scriptural mandate to do so.

    Preceding Romans 14:21 which you mentioned to advocate your position, four verses earlier Paul writes,

    “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

    Clearly this passage deals with not causing another to stumble, but also we can agree that Paul’s point is the emphasis on the life in the kingdom of God consisting in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We should not unnecessarily place emphasis when Scripture doesn’t, and this is what I believe the SBC is doing. They are elevating “eating and drinking” to the level of essential matters pertaining to the kingdom of God. If someone is weak, then don’t drink. If someone isn’t, then don’t make a big deal of it.

    Jesus also stated that “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matt. 15:11). The context of this is dealing with the Pharisees and their traditions and man-made commandments. “Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” is alive and well today.

    Concerning Jesus and the disciples drinking to get a buzz, I am not in a position to determine the motive or purpose for their drinking wine, but they drink nevertheless which is indisputable. We must be careful not to let the lens of 21st century Western Christianity and culture dominate our hermeneutic. What I mean is, drinking wine probably was not for the purpose of getting a buzz; rather they drink wine because it was the drink of choice in that day. The culture and perceptual admonitions where different then than today. Today we equivocate men who have hair touching the ears and drinking a sip of wine as ungodly. I seriously doubt this was the case then. Sure, the Bible is filled with restrictions and commands not to get *drunk* with wine, but to jump to the conclusion that this means any and all consumption of wine in NT times seems problematic given all the texts showing otherwise.

    All,

    I think this is good for us to have a healthy discussion on these matters, especially on SBF. I presume there are some who think all we know and do is follow a “Calvinistic” textbook to look up our answers. Yet we should not treach alcohol any differently than unconditional election in our passion and commitment to understand what God’s Word says and how we should conform our lives, our thinking, and our writing to the dictates of Scripture. May our consciences, like Luther, be held captive to God’s Word and may our affections rise to the level of our affirmations.


  17. Will you guys stop with the “buzz” thing? Good grief, you sound like a bunch of hippies. More importantly, you (most of you) are betraying your Stoicism: “The body is evil, but the spirit is good.” How do you suppose wine gladdens the heart in Psalm 104:14,15?

    “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

    Your personal commitments to total abstinenance are fine, but that one little word, I think, betrays a social and philosophical prejudice.

  18. Allan Says:

    Good points, all.

    My simple question is: Are pastors or deacons more spiritual the the layman?

    Because in order to be [qualified] to be a pastor or deacon, you could NOT be given to [wine].

    I do know that this is referring to one who frequents wine, but even Paul does not encourage Timothy to drink wine for your stomach problems but qualifies the amount as small – what is that in portion size, about much less than is normal regarding a drink 🙂

    Are we less righteous than Kings or princes?

    Proverbs states that in Ch. 31: 4-9 That wine is not for Kings and prince should not drink of the strong drink. Why lest they drink and forget the law… But give it to them that they may forget their loss, or remember their misery no more.

    Alcohol isn’t evil but it is the (results) of the alcohal that can become so because of its very nature on humans. Nothing specifically against the drink in and of itself but on its natural tendency on those who drink it. Not to mention they did not distil their alcohol until recent centuries so the natural fermentation would be much, much less, so the amount drank would need to be somewhat more.

    Scripture also not even look upon the wine when it’s color turns, ect. this refers to the well documented fermentation process.
    To look ment to look with longing for. It showed if nothing else a habit forming.

    Scripture does say in vs. 8 give drink to the condemed, or dying, and of a heavy heart, (greek is bitter of soul). Everything contrary to a believer.

    This point is arguable but why did Jesus on the cross reject the vinegar.
    Vingar is a cheap sour wine, and it corrisponds to the scriptures as to why when He cried out I thirst, that was what they retrieved for him.

    Personally I think we must judge if and when to drink and to what point. Cough medicines we drink (hopefully not the whole bottle at once) but there is alcohol in it. And in certain countries it is customary to drink one glass of wine, (Korea is one example of this) To decline would embaras the host (if) he did not previously know you did not drink. I advocate not drinking but that there are occassions that if need be we can but like scripture states (paraphrased) it should not be our norm.

  19. Timmy Says:

    Wayne,

    I am not quite sure I understand what you mean when you said:

    “Your personal commitments to total abstinenance are fine, but that one little word, I think, betrays a social and philosophical prejudice.”

    Could you elaborate on this please?

  20. Chip Says:

    Did Jesus contribute to the drunkenness of the men in John 2?

    Thanks,

    Chipley McQueen Thornton

  21. Josh Buice Says:

    John Mark,

    You said, “Who has said that Christians should drink alcohol to get a buzz?”

    I say — What other reason is there to drink alcohol? That would be like me saying, “I am going to take this Tylenol – but only because I like the chalky taste in my mouth, I don’t have a headache.” I use the example only for picture purposes – not to a smart mouth J

    You said, “Also, in quoting Romans 12:1 to apply it to drinking alcohol, why stop there? How far are you willing to (mis)take this verse?”

    I say — I did not mistake the verse. I used it by pulling out an overarching timeless truth of the passage to apply in our day. Certainly being conformed to the world is a danger in our time. Now, before you jump to conclusions – I am not suggesting that we not shop at the same stores, wear the same clothes, etc…. What I am suggesting is that if the world is consumed with something of evil [that which does not glorify God], we as Christians should seek to avoid it and not allow our hearts to be conformed to those things. I hope you see my point.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Nathan,

    In my studies of the difference in the words, it seems that a specific emphasis is placed on the danger of strong drink – and mere warnings on the wine itself. You said, “gain, if wine had little or no alcohol, then the scripture that admonishes elders to not be ‘given to much wine’ would be puzzling.”

    Your point is taken well, however, it seems to be that some [within the church] were using wine [which was not the typical drink for intoxication] for the purpose of intoxication by drinking too much. The passage that deals with elder’s qualifications would warn those who are leaders to refrain from such behavior that was not fitting for leadership and was a disgrace to the LORD.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Gordan,

    You said, “I think any man who believes a single ice-cold beer is sinful and evil in and of itself has probably never worked hard on a summer day even once in his life.”

    I say — I have worked many days of blood, sweat, and tears in manual labor before I was saved and called into the gospel ministry. I have worked many days with the same intensity or even greater intensity in the gospel ministry —– and I have never longed for a beer to satisfy my thirst. I typically go for the ice cold Gatorade.
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Timmy,

    I agree – to make any law that does not have a biblical foundation is legalism – that is the danger here. However, we must make a very clear point. When we fly on airplanes – the “No Smoking” policy does not offend us. We realize it is for safety purposes. While I am not 100% sure of the motives behind of the SBC’s resolution on alcohol, it seems that the policy would govern those who are leaders in the SBC – in order to be above and beyond the touch of hypocrisy – for safety purposes. I am a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – and we have a covenant that we sign as students and staff which outlaws all use of alcohol. This policy has been in place for years. It is for the good of the people and the Glory of God. Therefore, that could be the same type of issue with the resolution.

    You said, “What I mean is, drinking wine probably was not for the purpose of getting a buzz; rather they drink wine because it was the drink of choice in that day. The culture and perceptual admonitions where different then than today. Today we equivocate men who have hair touching the ears and drinking a sip of wine as ungodly.”

    I say — I agree. And….I hope the hair thing is not looked upon as ungodly, because I really need a hair cut today…. 😉

    Thanks again for the gracious spirit – may God bless you and this web ministry.

    For the glory of God and the God of glory!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  22. johnMark Says:

    Josh, thanks for your response.

    Josh said, “I say — What other reason is there to drink alcohol? That would be like me saying, “I am going to take this Tylenol – but only because I like the chalky taste in my mouth, I don’t have a headache.” I use the example only for picture purposes – not to a smart mouth J”

    Me: Respectfully, it seems that you have falsely and unfairly assumed this premise upon your brethren. Though I understand the point you are “trying” to make it is not an accurate portrayal. What you’ve questioned here are motives rather than the actual position.

    Josh said, “I say — I did not mistake the verse. I used it by pulling out an overarching timeless truth of the passage to apply in our day. Certainly being conformed to the world is a danger in our time. Now, before you jump to conclusions – I am not suggesting that we not shop at the same stores, wear the same clothes, etc…. What I am suggesting is that if the world is consumed with something of evil [that which does not glorify God], we as Christians should seek to avoid it and not allow our hearts to be conformed to those things. I hope you see my point.”

    Me: I see your point; however, my main question to you is how far do we take this? Conforming to the world would mean drunkenness while not conforming would be drinking without drunkenness. And why start and stop the issues of conforming to the world with alcohol? As I stated previously, if we consistently apply this verse across the board we would live similar to the Amish. The world is consumed with many things including drunkenness so why single out this one issue by going above and beyond Scripture? The world is also very much consumed with self-centered pleasure. Does this mean Christians should not enjoy themselves? This is conformity vs. nonconformity which is not about singling out an action or in this case an item in and of itself.

    For example:
    conforming to the world = logging onto the internet to view porn, etc. (getting drunk)
    Vs. not conforming to the world = logging onto the internet for Bible study. (having a drink)

    The problem is not alcohol, but sin. Our religion is not about not drinking alcohol that’s the Mormons’ and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religions. We need to explain this to people so they properly understand that Christianity is not about “being good vs. being bad,” but about God’s grace.

    Just to be consistent and safe maybe you should disconnect your internet service. 😉 (I’m kidding)

    Mark

  23. Timmy Says:

    Josh,
    For the record, I am an SBTS student too (starting my third year this fall). 🙂

    As most everyone knows on the blogosphere, the alcohol issue was a big thing here as it has not always been a school policy for years. It came about last fall as a matter of fact. Furthermore, the forum held was reactionary to the fact that many students were not tee totalers. I have no problem that there was a forum. I did have a problem with out the changed policy was implemented. Do you know how the student body was informed about this change? We received a sheet in our school mailbox informing us of the changes. No formal address. No interaction with students. No direct communcation from anyone leading the policy change. A simple sheet in the mail. To me that was disheartening.

    As I have stated earlier, I do not have a problem with the policy change and student covenant because drinking alcohol has never been an issue with me. However, many where scratching their heads then as they are today. I understand both positions, but then my problem was that we were stressing meetings/forums/policy changes about alcohol while refusing to address Jack Graham who was coming to speak in chapel. If you can recall, Graham made a frontal assault on Reformed theology and basically denounced the very confession our school is built upon. Why not hold a forum on this? I took it as a blatant double-standard and many students with whom I interacted were extremely disappointed in what took place (and what didn’t).

  24. Josh Buice Says:

    John Mark,

    The slippery slope argument does not work with me…..because it seems to be inconsistent. Just because you use the point regarding alcohol, it does not force it puon all other instances in life [ie – riding in a car etc….]. Specific things in life are necessary and should never be questioned, but what we place in our body for the purpose of entertainment etc…. should always be scrutinized.

    You said,
    “For example: conforming to the world = logging onto the internet to view porn, etc. (getting drunk)
    Vs. not conforming to the world = logging onto the internet for Bible study. (having a drink)”

    I say — No – I would say it would be more accurately described as follows:
    Logging onto the internet to view the latest issue of Playboy magazine (getting drunk).
    Vs.
    Logging onto the internet to view the latest swimsuit model issue of S.I. (having a drink).
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Timmy,

    We will have to get together and have coffee one day soon. I would like to meet you in person. Furthermore, I thought the policy was in place before last fall. I am 3.5 years into the M.Div. program here – and I thought I signed something before then. I could be mistaken…..it may have only applied to the faculty?

    May God bless!

    For the glory of God and the God of glory!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  25. Timmy Says:

    Josh,

    Sure thing. I would love to get up with you. This week I am meeting up with two other bloggers who are in town for a J-term, and I try to make it a habit to have lunch or breakfast with bloggers on a regular basis. You can contact me at gospelcentral [at] yahoo [dot] com.

    Concerning the policy, it may have been in effect for the faculty before last Fall, but I am pretty sure that the policy changed and came into effect under the school covenant for students just last year.

  26. johnMark Says:

    Josh,

    What is happening here is we are getting outside of Scripture into philosophy. I agree that the slippery slope argument doesn’t work in regards to this discussion on alcohol, but from a different perspective. I am not presenting a slippery slope only trying to be consistent in what Christians pick and choose to be binding upon the whole church. The slippery slope that some in the abstinence crown present is that allowing the moderate drinking of alcohol in the church will eventually lead to people getting drunk.

    As to what is necessary vs. what should be scrutinized is not the issue. If it were then the same principles of consistency apply. It is not necessary that we in the USA have most of the material posessions we have, eat all the different foods we eat, enjoy the entertainment we do, etc. Yet, we take part. It may not be necessary that you ever drink another liquid but water the rest of your life. I am going to guess that you will and that a lot of the time you will because you enjoy whatever drink it is.

    As far as your example above, if you don’t think you can not sin by taking a sip of alcohol then by all means don’t. However, you have no scriptural position on which to bind everyone else’s conscience as this current resolution attempts. That’s the point in Romans 14. You don’t hold it against me if I have some wine and I don’t hold it against you that you don’t.

    What’s ironic is that one could log onto the internet for Bible study in a manner that is sinful. They could be doing it for purposes of boasting and such. See there is no end when we step outside of scriptural mandates.

    Besides your personal preferences can you give me exegetical scriptural reasons why you think alcohol has no place in the Christian’s life?

    Mark

  27. Stephen Thomas Says:

    It has been asked: Why are there two different Greek words for “wine” and “strong drink” if wine is not very alcoholic, if at all? I respond by asking, Why are there two different English phrases for “wine” and “strng drink” though wine is still 7-13? alcohol? The original question is irrelevant. As has been stated before, contextual usage of the Hebrew and Greek words for wine suggest that it is alcoholic enough to cause drunkenness, and no serious lexicographer could disagree. And from a scientific viewpoint, without proper storage, such as we have today, grape juice quickly beocomes either vinegar or wine, with the fermentation process quickly continuing until the alcoholic level reaches such that it kills off any further yeast (around 13-15%).

    It has been asked: Why drink if not to get a buzz? Well, in the case of nasty beer, I would second that question. But then again, if I wanted to get a buzz or get drunk, I would find something more alcoholic than beer. Beer drinkers, both excessive and moderate, are just weird to me. But at least in the case of wine, some people drink for taste. I know that may seem shocking, but then, some people like blue cheese, and that makes me want to puke. It’s a strange world with lots of different tastes. Wine can bring out flavors of certain dishes or (as in the case of my own glass every 3-4 months) to help bring out the flavor of a cigar. Shock! Horror! But that’s another topic altogether, and I have Spurgeon and Machen on my side.

    I want to add that I am very familiar with the horrors of alcohol abuse. But to beat a belabored horse, I know of many other horrors of other otherwise fine things that have been abused. But we should not call evil what God has declared good, and making up stories about how “wine” doesn’t really mean “wine” without any sort of real evidence is dishonest.

    Having said all this, I must say that it is absolutely the best thing for most people today in at least American society to never touch a drop of alcohol. As for Christians specifically, with so much disposition to excess even among Christians, I would also say that those with little self-control should completely abstain from alcohol. But I cannot judge who those people are. That part of me that tends towards a higher view of the ordinances than most Baptists says, “We must do the Lord’s Supper exactly as our Lord instituted it!” As R.C. Sproul was saying once, a smart-aleck student asked him why we don’t just use peanut butter sandwiches and soda at the Lord’s table, to which Sproul became angry and said that Jesus did not consecrate peanut butter sandwiches and soda. The same might possibly be said of modern grape juice. Perhaps the fermented element is not essential ti the Cup, but maybe it is. “It is better to be safe than sorry.” Funny, using that argument in favor of alcohol! Now I’m not really that much of a stickler for being so particular in the communion. I don’t want to be accused of being some sort of Papal Sacramentalist! But I remember Sproul’s words about consecration, and it makes me uneasy that we so glibly change things that the Lord instituted. Like I said, maybe it’s an unimportant change….But perhaps by the time I’m old and curmedgeonly, I’ll have gone all the way over and have a new issue to be curmudgeonly about.

    Either way, it is a matter for personal Christians first, for the local congregation second, and for the Convention not at all.


  28. The word “buzz” was being used as a pejorative in the discussion to describe something bad that happens with the consumption of any amount of alcohol. What I see in this, combined with the various statements concerning personal abstinance, and teaching the same to ones children, is sola Scriptura up to a point, then fundamentalism kicks in again at the last minute. We can’t seem to get away from the social stigmas associated with alcohol, but we want to be faithful to Scripture, so we say “Alcohol is ok, but not for me, because it gives that “buzz” thing.” It is kind of like Fundamentalism Light: a third less rules, same great legalism. We can’t get use to the idea that God gave us all things richly to enjoy, and that one of those things is wine to gladen the heart. Fundamentalism is at its heart philosophically Stoical, and I believe there is a little bit of fundamentalism in all of us.

  29. Allan Says:

    I guess the real question isn’t so much about whether or not to drink but about our attitude toward the Father in relation to it.

    Do everything as unto the Lord – and – in all you do, do it for the glory of God.

    If we drink, smoke, chew, or date the girls that do… are we doing them for the right reasons with in OUR heart. It is a personal relationship but at the same time an open and visible one for all to see.

    Do they see us, when or if we do these as glorifying God through our actions.

    It was once said to me – So you are actually telling me, when you sit down to eat, that God is glorified. I said, Yepper, I thank Him for the provision, and blessing to have such before me. AND what I have I share with those around me.

    Now I ask, would you do that with alcohol?

    Wayen: You are correct that God gave us all things to enjoy – But we must understand what the “all things” equates to. I’m sure you would agree that God gave us sexual intercourse but this must be maintained within His stated paramiters that it may be righteous before Him or else the result would be sin.

    I do not agree with your view of the scripture that God gave wine to man for him to be happy (in a generalized sense).

    If we followed through with that thought it would negate the need for a relational dependency on His character by and through which we rely for such comforts (peace, love, joy, fulfillment). Otherwise if I’m not chipper go grab some liquor – just don’t get drunk. [gladen the heart = Relieves his sorrow or bitterness – reference Prov 31:6-7 used in conjunction with one condemmed or without hope, give it to him that he may forget…]

    I may be wrong But I’m willing to hear it and change.
    Also we know scientifically the more often one partakes, the more likey they are to be taken.

  30. Chip Says:

    Fellow gosplers,

    I should like to turn this conversation toward Scripture.

    John 2:10 states, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou [Jesus] hast kept the good wine until now.”

    The text indicates that these men had “well drunk” already.

    Did Jesus contribute to the drunkenness of the men in John 2 by turning the water into wine?

    —It seems as if one answers in the affirmative, then one indicts our Lord with sin; an indictment which is unconscionable.

    —It seems as if one answers in the negative, then one must presume that the content of alcohol was not significant enough to promote the sin of drunkenness.

    Please help me to more fully understand this conundrum.

    Warmest Regards in Jesus Christ,

    Chipley McQueen Thornton


  31. For me it all comes back to this: I am a seminary student (transferring to Southern from a Presbyterian seminary) and I think it is silly that the students cannot drink. Can the leadership of the school, or of the convention, honestly trust me to take up the banner of the reformation when they are gone; can they trust me to love a wife, and raise children; can they trust me to lead God’s flock for their eternal good, yet not trust me with a glass of wine with my pasta or a beer with my BBQ this summer? It seems relativily disconnected to me.

    In all honesty I think this is the beginning of something we may not see hashed out for a while, but this signals its coming. The younger, less “moralistic” of the SBC will begin to feel alienated. There may not be a “schism”, but there definately will be a lack of communication.

  32. Josh Buice Says:

    Christopher,

    The issue is not trust — the issue is safety and protection of your testimony to the world. It seems that the SBC [along with Southern] is seeking to protect ministries, families, the Convention, and the Seminary from problems that will UNDOUBTEDLY follow the use of alcohol. What will it look like when students from the school are involved in DUI’s or other issues related to alcohol? The issue seems to be more focused on protection and prevention rather than legalism as many on this site seem to claim.

    If abstinence from alcohol protects the great institution of SBTS, the Convention [SBC] which I am apart of, individual ministries [which I am a minister], families [which I have], and our testimonies [which we all have] – the issue is a no brainer to me…..just don’t do it!

    Do all for the glory of God!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com


  33. This issue is not drinking, the issue is drunkenness. Moderate drinking, that is, drinking allowed and endorsed by the Bible, does not result in DUIs. One glass of wine UNDOUBTEDLY does not make anybody drunk, with the possible exception of a two-foot tall dwarf. To speak from personal experience, the only thing that has ever caused me to get any sort of traffic violation is not alcohol, but laziness. The only ticket I have received is for not having gotten my inspection sticker renewed.

    What will it look like when students from the school are involved in sexual sins? I guess we should abolish women!

    MODERATION in alcohol, among other things, protects the Convention, ministers, familes, and our testimoinies. For inerrantists, the issue is a no-brainer–the Scripture’s commands are sufficient, but don’t need any additions.

  34. Timmy Says:

    Josh,

    While I understand your argument, what about internet pornography? We all believe that sex is good and a gift from God when experienced within holy matrimony. So sex in and of itself it not bad. It is the abuse and misuse of sex outside the bounds of marriage that brings violation. Could this line of reasoning also be applied to alcohol?

    The real problem, as Piper has stated the locus of the problem is within our hearts and our own depravity. The front lines of this battle is within the human heart and our need to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Whereas I am sure the institution of SBTS, the SBC, and ultimately the name of Christ has suffered because of the abuse of alcholism (I say not the use of it), I assure you that all of these have suffered 100 times more because of pornography.

    I think it was Tom Ascol who said that when we start putting resolutions like this out, we will start picking and choosing which sins to bring to light and thus disqualify some from service in the SBC while ignoring others (that would likely find more culpability in those speaking).

    So do you we just adopt an antinomian mentality to this? Absolutely not! But we need the right application of the law and build our schools, conventions, and ultimately our testimonies to our Savior on the grace of God the truthfulness of His Word. That’s all I am saying. I have nothing against SBTS and the decision they have against the alcohol policy. While I have not and will not violate my school covenant concerning alcohol, I still think the argument is weak and the policy, like this resolution passed, is problematic when it goes beyond where Scripture has spoken.

  35. ML Says:

    Drinking alcohol in moderation is allowed biblically-period. While many may now no longer believe Jesus did miracles or still does does miracles,even though Hebrews says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday,today and forever”,His FIRST miracle was making inebriated people more inebriated. (John 2:1-11)

    During festivals in Israel ,they had “beer ,wine and strong drink”. The Nazirite vow was to prohibit and those who went into the tent of meeting could not be inebriated but it was part of the culture and was even considered a blessing. Alcohol abuse was frowned aupon.


  36. Timmy,
    I would like to apologize for two things. First, I failed to express my appreciation and agreement with your post. It was very well written, and I agree with your argument completely. Secondly, on looking back at my two previous comments, I came across a bit harsh, and for that I am truly sorry. Both times I was pressed, time wise, and I ripped my comments off in a bit of a hurry. I think I, and others, also may have missed the point of your post: the error of a convention passing a resolution condemning something that Scripture does not, and how that equates to legalism and fundamentalism, but not conservatism. If that was in deed your purpose, then you did a fine job at it.

    Allan,
    The view of Scripture that you do not agree with is not mine, it is God’s. Unless there is some kind of Hebrew idiom or something that I don’t know about (I don’t know Hebrew), then gladden means gladden.

    If God delights in His creatures (Numbers 14:8; Psalm 35:27; Proverbs 3:12) then why shouldn’t He desire to give us all things richly to enjoy, what ever that might equate to? Look at all the references in Scripture to God’s blessings upon the nation of Israel. Wine is always there as a part of that blessing (Deut. 7:13; Deut. 11:4; Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 62:8) Look at the future blessings that God promises. Wine is there too (Joel 2:19; Joel 2:24; Joel 3:18; and my personal favorite, the Plowman’s verse, Amos 9:13,14).

    Have you ever noticed that fuzzy, dusty look on ripe grapes? That is called the blume, which is naturally occurring yeast. As soon as you break the skin on a grape it is “predestined” (threw a little Calvinism in there) to be wine. Add to that a 10-percent sugar content and a pH of 2, and grapes were made by God to make wine. God made the grape the way it is, and put the yeast on the outside just waiting to get in. I didn’t do those things, God did. Because of this we can enjoy a glass of wine and be glad in the same way we can enjoy and be glad over a sunset, or beautiful music, or the wife of one’s youth; all because of the amazing God who delights in us, and gives us all things richly to enjoy. Instead of negating the need for a relational dependency on His character, this view glories in that relational dependency.
    I hope that helps. God’s blessings all, Wayne Hatcher

  37. Allan Says:

    I think there is still a large piece of the alcohol puzzle you many of you are forgetting and that is the edification of the weaker brother.

    As believers it is NOT about what WE like, want, or do but about how those around us percieve the Christ in us.
    I Cor 10:24 – Let no man seek his own. but every man anothers welfare.
    Our lives are about self sacrifice that OTHERS may grow in knowledge and truth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    Paul does not say “when they aren’t around go ahead an do it” as I have had some falsely proclaim (not here)
    We see in I Cor 10:23-33 Paul stating (paraphrasing) “That he does not want his liberty to provide a reason for condemning him (via the weaker brother) So he will voluntarily restrict it for the glory of God.

    Everything we do SHOULD be so that it edifies, strengthens, and establishes other brothers and sisters in the same faith we hold so dear. That is why in 11:1 we are encouraged to follow the example of the self sacrificing example of both Paul and Jesus.

    So drinking, getting drunk, moderation and all the rest take a back seat to the edification of other believers, before any of our liberties and makes this conversation on can we or can we not drink, (at least to me) a MOOT point.

    For if there is even one brother who considers it (anything in the sphere of our christian liberty) a stumbling block then all brothers and sisters SHOULD restrict themselves that the one may abound.
    AGAPE – just a thought or an action

    Finally, though I back and support the SBC and CP I do have some problems with the alcohol issue somewhat at the convention. Why? We are a convention of autonomous churches coming together via agreement to hold to certain doctrinal, ethical, and moral values to the fulfillment of Jesus mandate to the churches. That line of agreement can get pretty fuzzy if we are not careful and go from agreements to edicts, from a convention to an institution.

  38. Allan Says:

    Sorry for the length but my dad was one who believed in the moderation view and after 10 years of moderation, he never realized until he almost killed my mom that he was over taken. His one beer with dinner never hurt anyone, but tell that to our family who was greatly abused. (all we saw was the one beer or glass of wine) No, alcohol, and moderation did not make him such but, man CAN NOT sit in the fire not expect to get burned. (if you drink yes it is or will soon be a “temptation” becuase it is just human nature to over due in times of pain or happyness)

  39. Timmy Says:

    Wayne,

    No problem brother. Apology accepted. Please continue to post in the future. 🙂

    Allan,

    First, let me say that dude I am sorry that you had such painful experiences in the past. I must say that I cannot understand or relate in that sense as I grew up without any alcohol in my family (of which I am truly grateful). It goes without saying that much of the pathos and conviction behind our statements is experiential and biographical, and knowing a little of your story helps me/us understand why you feel the way you do. I sincerely appreciate your transparency and openness. I suspect that you could speak for many, many people in the SBC.

    Concerning your point of edification and consideration of the weaker brother, I receive your point as well taken. In two separate places (1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23) Paul mentioned that “all things are lawful to me” but “not all things are helpful.” He later goes on to say that he will not be enslaved by anything and that not all things lawful do not build up. Clearly, Paul was concerned about his life and all the decisions and attitudes comprised within was focused on counting “others more significant” than himself by “not looking to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

    But we must also consider that Paul also said “let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink . . .” (Col. 2:16) and encouraged Timothy to drink a little wine (1 Tim. 5:23) for his stomach. Here’s my point: the place and operative way of dealing with this should be though the gospel taken effect in our lives through the grace of God. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, the issues we try to fix by resolutions and man-made laws will be overcome by the power of Jesus Christ, not the enforcement or employment of some resolution. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1) but this freedom was not for an opportunity for the flesh, but for service in love towards one another (Gal. 5:13). We should never think that because we are free we can live as we wish. Rather, as Paul reminds us, we are bondservants of Christ. We are free to be the slaves of God who have given up our rights to rule our conscience and conduct by our own dictates or will but have been crucified with Christ so that we not longer live but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20).

    For me, the issue with alcohol being addressed by the SBC is being done without reference to the gospel or the transforming grace of God or the power of the gospel. It is simply a resolution enacted and soaked in legalism. On another post I said, “Band-aid sized resolutions work for superficial predicaments, but we are prescribing the wrong medicine because we have not properly diagnosed the disease.” The disease is in the human heart, and no resolution is going to do anything to fix that. Leaders in the SBC would think that after some 57 resolutions this is true; but what do we do? We come up with number 58.

    As I stated earlier, I am a teetolater. Those who drink and those who do not drink should make their decisions based on the Word of God alone. I choose not to because I want there to be any potential obstacle to the gospel; however, in this instance, I see no greater obstacle to the gospel than this resolution. I find this irony staggering.

    I guess I could ramble on, but I just wanted to say that I appreciate your point brother. One thing is for sure, some of the godliest men I know are tee totalers, and some of the godliest men I know do drink. And this is not a contradiction or a mistatement. The frustration with SBCers on the blogosphere is that the SBC would take something like this to debate and pass resolutions about when we need to rediscover biblical evangelism the gospel, church discipline, regenerate church membership, and the Great Commission mandate for all Christians. The point to all this should be the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blazing center should be on the cross. Unfortunately, what the world hears from us is our 58th resolution on alcohol. This I simply cannot for the life of me understand.


  40. […] Given the lengthy discussion on my previous post, I thought I’d share a few quotes from Samuel Bolton in his book The True Bounds of Christian Freedom. Feel free to interact with what he has stated. Here they are: […]

  41. Allan Says:

    Hard life, yes. Impossible, only if I did not know Christ. And thank you for your comments, all. I am a firm believer in our christian testomony before the world and believers. Therefore, I choose to lift up the weaker by setting aside my privilage for the glory of the Kingdom family’s unity. Isn’t that what it is all about? Peace be to you all.

    Wayne, brother I appreciate your responces. I would like to sit down with you laugh while we talk on day (though I doubt anytime soon, SD is a little far for tea time). I don’t know you be I think it would be a blessing to chat with you over (whatever 🙂 Although I don’t agree with you on the whole “God made grapes to make wine…” That is like saying God put mold on bad food to be penicillin for the upset stomach you will (but you have to add a little of this, and a littel of that to get it right.) But still I appreciate your candor and thoughts. God in heaven bless you richly -and to you all- Amen

  42. Timmy Says:

    As I see this thread beginning to die off, let me just make a quick observation. Several excellent points were made from both sides of the issue concerning alcohol. I have looked at several threads on other blogs where this issue when sour really quick. You guys in my opinion have put the most thoughtful and engaging comments that I have seen, but more than that, you have done this in a respectible and mature manner. I am thankful that I/we are not having to moderate comments or referee a boxing match full of sucker punches. 🙂

    Seriously, it has been my desire that as brothers and sisters in Christ we can attempt to tackle difficult issues with thorough examination, personal introspection, and healthy interaction. Let’s keep this attitude and spirit going! And let’s continue to remember that brothers and sisters in Christ can disagree on various issues and our love for one another does not change. For me, the appreciation I have for you grows all the more knowing that I will not be received a pat answer from second-handers. Thanks again for your participation and edification. I hope and pray that in all this we can be encouraged to press on to know the Lord and His truth.

  43. Josh Buice Says:

    As I have kept up with this discussion, I have noticed that Chip Thornton asked a question — but nobody answered his question.

    He asked:

    John 2:10 states, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou [Jesus] hast kept the good wine until now.”

    The text indicates that these men had “well drunk” already.

    Did Jesus contribute to the drunkenness of the men in John 2 by turning the water into wine?

    My answer — if one holds to the belief that the “best wine” is a reference to the strongest in “toxic” percentage, It would be clear that these individuals were “already drunk” and Christ would undoubtedly be contributing to their sin.

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  44. Timmy Says:

    Chip and Josh,

    It is generally understood and argued by NT scholars that the wine was an alcoholic drink (see D.F. Watson in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels). In other words, it was fermented. However, to go to the point that Jesus contributed to their sin is a logical leap that is unnecessary. Wine was not only the common drink of the day, but it also resembled joy and celebration which was the occasion at the wedding. Also, how do we know that they were drunk? Is this not an assumption? Also, did Jesus personally distribute the wine? Was he encouraging them to “drink it up?” I think we are all too quickly wanting to justify our positions by leaping to conclusions that are simply unfounded. What we do know is that the wine was an alcoholic drink and Jesus turned the water into wine. What we don’t know simply leaves us to speculation. So to answer the question, I would say that Jesus did NOT contribute to their sin because 1) Jesus was fully aware of what he was doing and obviously did not thinking turning water into wine a sinful thing to do, and 2) the Bible clearly presents Jesus as the spotless Lamb of God without spot of blemish.

    Look, Jesus was in the world in which he lived. I think a part that is repulsive is how compassionately he embraced the world around him and integrated his life with “sinners.” Remember, he was called a glutton and drunkard. Because someone said he was such makes it true? God forbid! Jesus was not a clean, wholly separate Savior would would not touch a leper, embrace a prostitute, or eat with tax collectors and sinners. In our religious rulebook, Jesus would have many resolutions against him today. In this context, he ate and drank as part of the people in his day. We would like to glamorize the drinking of wine because of its taboo status in our culture, but I simply don’t think it was as big of a deal with those in that cultural context.

    One other thought: We must not forget that there was a reason why the first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding. This is tremendous significance to this account, including the wine. Furthermore, this is the first of the “signs” (miracles with a meaning or “parables in action”) which Jesus did which evokes a specific response–namely that people would believe that He is the Messiah and glory in that truth. The result of this account was not that a bunch of people got drunk, but rather his disciples believed! All that took place was a manifestation of his glory! How can we argue, then, that Jesus was contributing to the peoples’ sin when the Scripture states that the outcome of this was faith in Jesus and a manifestation of his glory?

    We lose the significance of the wine when we continue to downplay it with our cultural hermeneutic. This is a beautiful story about the transforming power of Jesus, of the celebration of the Christian life in Christ, etc. The book of John was specifically written with these signs in mind (cf. John 20:30-31), so if Jesus was contributing to their sin, then John must also be culpable by including this in his epistle. If John, knowing that Jesus was contributing to someone else’s sin, surely he would have left this one out! But he didn’t.

    This statement that argues that Jesus contributed to the sin of others is the result of two things in my mind: trying to see what is not in the text, and not seeing what is in the text.

  45. Josh Buice Says:

    Timmy,

    I will speak for me – and I will allow Chip to respond on his own – therefore, the following words will be a response from me alone.

    Let it be known – I am not in any way suggesting that my beloved Savior DID contribute to the sin of those at the wedding feast – furthermore, the question needs to be asked – was there as sin committed at the wedding feast?

    My question – as well as Chip’s question – stems from the center of the suggestion (1) the wine mentioned here is alcoholic wine [potent enough to get drunk] (2) the people are “well drunk” indicating their drunken condition and (3) Christ turned the water into alcoholic wine which would contribute to the population of those who were “well drunk” as mentioned in the text.

    Let it be known — I am passionate about proper exegesis — expository preaching — and I would never condone any attempt to read into the text something that is not there. My question is simply this — what does the text say? What do the phrases and key words mean?

    Phrase – “Well Drunk”
    Word – Wine

    Following the definition of these terms, the following question should be answered – “Did Christ turn the water into alcoholic wine?”

    The proper definitions and answers to the above questions should clear up some of the muddy water we have been walking through.

    Rev. Josh Buice
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  46. Timmy Says:

    You asked, Did Christ turn the water into alcholic wine?” The answer I take at this point is yes. I say that admitting my fallibiity. If I am wrong, I will of course change my position.

    There is no reason to conclude that if Jesus turned the water in to fermented wine that he is culpable of someone else’s sin. If, however, if you think that drinking wine in that time was indeed a sin, then yes, what Jesus did contributed to their sin. However, wine is considered in Scripture as a gift, prescribed by Paul, drank by Jesus and the Apostles, etc. The argument that drinking fermented wine in and of itself is sinful is Scripturally untenable in my mind. The matter is the misuse or abuse of wine (drinking in excess). If those at the wedding got drunk, did Jesus get them drunk? To say that Jesus did so indirectly is simply dishonest and implying something without biblical warrant.

    If the people were drunk, I would say yes, sin was committed. But if someone drank a class of wine, and that be it, I would say no. I see where the argument can assume that the people were drunk because the Scripture said the “drank freely” and then the poor wine came. It was at this point that Jesus turned the water into wine, so the implication *could* argue that in reality there were some who were drunk. But can we say this with absolute certainty? I don’t think so.

    Josh, in my response and answer to you and Chip, I wasn’t implying that you were not concerned about proper exegesis or expository preaching or that Jesus contributed to their sin. There is no need to defend yourself brother. 🙂 I just think we need to be careful with our speculation and probings. I kept on going back to what the text said, the authorial intent, and the purpose of this story. If our hermeneutic undermines the historical, grammatical, and literal context of the passage, then the possibility of a myriad of interpretations arise.

    However, I would be interested in your response to my previous comment if you have time. Have I mishandled the Scripture? I am asking this with sincerity and transparency. If I am wrong, then I want to be corrected. As Paul exclaimed, “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

  47. Allan Says:

    Would it be ok if, I say something on this.

    A wedding feast in that cultural time lasted 7 days (average) correct?

    So [IF] the wine were actually a juice with a small amount of alcohol mixed so it would not ferment to quickly, would it not after 5 or 6 days in the sun begin to ferment?

    If the best [was] juice (which it can be since NT scholars are still debating this same subject or we would not be speaking of it now 🙂 ) and it began to ferment after those many days would it not by definition become a poor version of the first, beginning to make some “well drunk”?

    And Jesus made the water into wine (the juice it orginated as but of such superior quality that it would not help in the drunkness of the crowd but save face (if you will) for the bride and groom concerning holyness before the people and God.

    I asked my professors this and they stated there is nothing that states it wasn’t so, but it’s it probably didn’t happen that way. I asked why not? Did the culture mandate it be alcoholic wine, since they would be celibrating for at least 7 days, and each new day would be a day drinking? And since if you drink (day 1 – 24 hour period) and not get drunk then day 2 you get up and do the same, day three the same, by this time your system is building up alcohol in your system and you will become tipsier quicker on each preceding day. Add to that the fact that the wine is beginning to become a little stronger each day. When the final day or day before Jesus makes the best that was brought out first (juice) not per say alcoholic in nature but pure. My prof. said it sounds like the beginning of a thesis. Don’t think so but it can be argued this version without differing from culture and the Holyness of Jesus while maintianing cohesiveness with scripture.

    I don’t know what you think but it was just a thought to pass on.

  48. Chip Says:

    The authorial intent of John 2:1-11 is clearly to demonstate the glory of our Sovereign Lord Christ (John states as much in John 2:11). However, the passage does indirectly speak to the issue at hand .

    OUR PRECIOUS LORD NEVER ONCE CAME CLOSE TO SINNING. It is based upon this presupposition that I read John 2. This leads the good Christian to one of two plausible conclusions (though there are other less possible conclusions one might derive).

    The first conclusion, posited by Bruce Lackey, is that the men were not already drunk and that neither the wine they had consumed nor the wine Christ gave them had any alcoholic content (see post #9–Josh Buice–Lackey states, “These people could definitely recognize that the wine, which Jesus made, was much better than what they had been served at first. This could not have been possible, if they were already well on their way to becoming intoxicated! The fact is, neither the wine that they had at first, nor that which Christ made, was alcoholic.”). This is possible, but has difficulty dealing with John 2:10, which indicates that the cheaper wine is brought forth after the men’s senses are dulled by first consuming the good wine. Further, this position has trouble dealing with John MacArthur’s argument that a small amount of alcohol content was normally mixed in so as to kill off the bacteria because the water of the time was unclean (see post #4–Josh Buice).

    The second conclusion is that the alcohol content of the wine which Jesus made was of such small proportion that the men could drink their belly full without ever becoming drunk. So, yes, it appears as if their was some alcoholic content in the wine. However, MacArthur aptly notes, “But the kind of wine that we call ‘wine’ today, rather than grape juice or fruit juice, the kind of wine that we have today is not the same as the kind that would normally be consumed in Biblical times [http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/wine.htm].” It seems reasonable to conclude, then, that Jesus made wine that had only enough alcoholic content (MacArthur posits an 8:1 ratio) to purify the beverage and reduce the health hazards associated with beverages in ancient times (i.e., the health hazards due to bacteria found in unclean water).

    To say that the wine Jesus made is analogous to the wine manufactered in the 21st century seems anachronistic, in effect, reading the context of the 21st culture into the biblical text.

    Thus I, in short, have made a humanly feeble attempt to exonerate our Glorious Lord Christ from the idea that he contributed to the drunkenness of the men in John 2.

    His manservant,

    Chipley McQueen Thornton

  49. Timmy Says:

    Chip,

    I appreciate your thoughts on this passage. I agree that our presuppositions to the text lead to being anacrhonistic just as much as it does with controlling our hermeneutic. I simply cannot see where one can deduce that the wine Jesus made and the wine the they drank was not alcoholic. While I will not go to the point that this position is untenable, but I will say that it is implausible.

    In another text, Paul admonishes believers, “Do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul clearly argues that the wine not only is alcoholic, but has enough strength to get one drunk. Also, consider the analogy of “being filled with the Spirit.” The filling of the Spirit represents the Spirit-controlled, Spirit-goverened life. If the parallel holds consistent, then I do not see where one can with intellectual honesty or biblical fidelity argue that the wine was not alcoholic or could not lead someone to being drunk (and controlling them).

    Beyond this is the greater issue of self-control and personal restraint. When a personal indulges in alcohol or food (gluttony) for that matter, it is a result of the misuse or abuse of that substance due to lack of self-control or a sense of unrestrained liberty predicated by a domineering selfishness which is antithetical to the life in Christ. The emphasis should be placed on the depravity and selfishness of sinful man, not the degree to which the wine was alcoholic.

    Chip, I really appreciate the question you asked. It is a good one, and as you stated, we can not take 21st century culturally-conditioned emotive responsives and allow them to be inserted to the biblical text. Let me reiterate: I am a teetotaler. I have never drank an ounce of alcohol in my life, so I am not trying to defend some “sin” or “Christian liberty” of mine. I am just trying to with one hand hold the the sufficiency of Scripture and in the other reach out with compassion to not only drunkards but all self-centered, depraved, Christless sinners like I once was with the gospel without attaching laws or rules the growing legalism (21st century Pharisaism) of our day.

  50. Chip Says:

    Sir Timmy,

    You bring up an enlightening point in Ephesians 5:18a: “And be not drunk with wine [oino] wherein is excess [asotia] . . . ” The Greek word for wine here is the same as in John 2:10 (oinos–the most common word in the N.T. for wine). The Greek word for “excess” is “asotia”, which means “profligacy” or, as your version states, “uncontrolled debauchery, dissipation, etc.” In the context of Ephesians 5, I must agree with John MacArthur that Paul seems to be contrasting the pagan culture with the true Christian life. The pagans get drunk with wine while the Christian ought be controlled by the Spirit. Your point is well-taken concerning alcoholic content and I readily admit that there was some wine [oinos] in ancient times that contained enough alchohol content to produce drunkenness.

    Extra-biblical literature speaks both of fermented wine and non-fermented wine. Plutarch writes in “Moralia” that he prefers non-alcoholic wine. Others write of non-alcoholic wine as well: Horace (in “Odes”) and Pliny the Elder (in “Natural History”). On the other hand, other historical data indicates alcoholic ratios as high as 20:1 or as low as 1:1 (see MacArthur, http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg1937.htm).

    My concern, however, in John 2 is with the wine that Jesus made. In the OT, priests were commanded not to drink wine or strong drink (Leviticus 10:9). Kings and princes were forbidden to drink wine or strong drink as well (Proverbs 31:4-5). Jesus is our High Priest and King (The book of Hebrews). It causes me to wonder whether Jesus, as High Priest and King of Kings, would make wine (and possibly drink it, though our John 2 text never states he consumed any) with enough alcohol to cause drunkenness. It further causes me to wonder whether Jesus, as High Priest and King of Kings, drank wine with enough alcohol to cause drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper, which might put Him in violation of the aforementioned OT texts (if they apply to Him).

    I realize that some will make distinctions between the testaments or will argue that priests were only forbidden to drink while in the Temple, etc., but there seems to be prinicple there that I’m not sure Christ would have set aside.

    Let me know your thoughts.

    His manslave,

    Chipley McQueen Thornton

  51. Josh Buice Says:

    Revised Post

    Timmy,

    John MacArthur quotes Dr. Robert Stein from a 1975 copy of Christianity Today:

    Robert Stein explains that the ancient Greeks kept their unboiled, unmixed, and therefore highly alcoholic wine in large jugs called “amphorae”. Before drinking they would pour it into smaller vessels called “kraters” and dilute it with water as a much as twenty to one. Only then would the wine be poured into “killits,” the cups from which it was drunk. It was this diluted from that was commonly referred to simply as wine (oinos). The undiluted liquid was called akratesteron, or “unmixed wine,” wine that had not been diluted in a “krater.” Even among the civilized pagans, drinking unmixed wine was considered stupid and barbaric [MacArthur – Ephesians Commentary pg. 236].

    One passage everyone desires to run toward for “Christian liberty” in the camp of social drinking is John 2 – the marriage feast. The use of the word “wine” [oinos] should be noted and investigated. The word used here is a common word for wine which could refer to a mildly alcoholic substance [for purification purposes] or the fresh fruit of the vine. Therefore, before one runs directly to the idea that Christ turned water into alcoholic wine – shouldn’t it be noted that not all instances of this word in the N.T. are for alcoholic usage?

    Furthermore, in the instance of John 2, the emphasis is placed on the fact that the best wine was saved until last – when everyone was “well drunk”. If the phrase “well drunk” emphasizes intoxication, wouldn’t Christ be contributing to their sin by providing more alcohol? Does “best” refer to alcoholic content or does it refer to the first fruit of the vine? Those are issues that must be dealt with in their context before running to the “Christian liberty” issue with alcohol.

    If our wine today is more potent than the wine of the biblical days, we have no business using “liberty” to condone the use of beverage alcohol. Strong drink [used for intoxication / buzz purposes] is condemned by the Word of God.

    May we seek to be more like God rather than more like the world!

    For the glory of God!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  52. Josh Buice Says:

    Revised Post — sorry

    On the issue of John 2:10, the following observation should be noted. I quote Marvin R. Vincent D.D. – in Volume II of IV of Vincent’s Word Studies In The New Testament:

    Have well drunk (methuo {meth-oo\’-o})……In every instance of its use in the New Testament the word means intoxication (Vincent pg. 82).

    With this being known – what must we say about the wine that Christ provided? Was it alcoholic? Was it pure fruit of the vine? This issue must be dealt with before one automatically claims the “Christian liberty” issue for wine in our day.

    For the glory of God and the God of glory!

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  53. Timmy Says:

    Chip,

    Thanks for your input.

    You said: Extra-biblical literature speaks both of fermented wine and non-fermented wine. Plutarch writes in “Moralia” that he prefers non-alcoholic wine. . . .It causes me to wonder whether Jesus, as High Priest and King of Kings, would make wine (and possibly drink it, though our John 2 text never states he consumed any) with enough alcohol to cause drunkenness.

    Let me make two points which I have made before but I think are sufficient to answer your questions as well as Josh’s:

    1. Your question is speculative. One can not deductively conclude that the wine Jesus made was not alcoholic.

    2. I think we need to consider the extent to which we rely on extrabiblical material. No doubt, it is helpful, but it is only supportive and secondary to the biblical text. Obviously, there would instances in the extrabiblical literature that contradicts Scripture. We who adhere to sola Scriptura must hold to the sufficiency of Scripture while appreciating whatever contributions the extrabiblical literature can contribute. However, there is a real danger in elevating the extrabiblical literature to the same level as Scripture, and your mentioning that the wine was both alcoholic and nonalcoholic leads one to think that you would be seeking justification for your position from sources other than God’s written revelation that is sufficent and our sole authority. No, don’t presume that I am saying that this was your motivation or that you are doing this. I am only saying that doing such can be misleading.

    I still have not heard a convincing argument that the wine Jesus made was not alcoholic. That is not to say that there isn’t one of course!

    Josh, you said: “May we seek to be more like God rather than more like the world!”

    Amen brother! Yet don’t forget that Jesus drank wine and was called a glutton and drunkard. Now, as I said in the past, these are charges and not actuality. Let’s be more like God, but let us also be more like Jesus who was more concerned about reaching his world than fitting all those Pharisaical rules in some phylactery on his forehead. We should not abuse our Christian liberty (as I said earlier I have not nor intend to drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage), but let us also make our conclusions and decisions on the sufficiency and authority of Scripture and not bend towards legalism. If we do, we will not be more like God but like the white-washed tombs Jesus pronounced his woes.

  54. Timmy Says:

    Josh and Chip,

    I don’t know why my post is appearing in bold faced font. Nothing I said is meant to be bolded to intend that I am being overtly emphatic or forceful. My apologies as I try to fix this.

  55. Stephen Ake Says:

    The bold font problem has been fixed.

  56. Timmy Says:

    Stephen,

    Thanks man! Did you fix the problem? If so, I really appreciate it! If not, thanks anyway. 🙂

  57. Chip Says:

    Sir Timmy,

    I appreciated your post (#53). Let me clarify a few issues.

    First, extra-biblical sources can help shed light on Scripture, nothing more. My post stated that there are extra-biblical sources FOR and AGAINST non-alcoholic wine. I took no position one way or the other. I simply presented the accurate historical evidence. In fact, I specifically stated earlier, “I readily admit that there was some wine [oinos] in ancient times that contained enough alchohol content to produce drunkenness.” In addition, I noted that some wine of the period was a 1:1 ratio, which would support a fermented wine argument.

    Second, you pulled two sentences from two separate paragraphs of my post, which, when taken together appear to make a connection that I never intended to make (see paragraph #1, post #53). I stated, “It causes me to wonder whether Jesus, as High Priest and King of Kings, would make wine (and possibly drink it, though our John 2 text never states he consumed any) with enough alcohol to cause drunkenness.”

    My statement was prefaced by two biblical texts which forbade priests (Leviticus 10:9) and kings (Proverbs 31:4-5) from partaking wine or strong drink. My statement was not prefaced by references to extra-biblical literature as your post insinuates. In fact, the extra-biblical references were in a preceding paragraph entirely. My point was that it causes me to wonder whether or not Jesus submitted Himself to OT texts such as Leviticus 10:9 and Proverbs 31:4-5.

    Third, in response to yours me-ward: “1. Your question is speculative. One can not deductively conclude that the wine Jesus made was not alcoholic.” Firstly, I never posed a question. Secondly, the same argument can be made you-ward. One cannot deductively conclude that the wine Jesus made was alcoholic. We simply ask you to provide us some evidence of this claim.

    Fourth, you never dealt with whether Jesus, as High Priest and King of Kings, drank wine with enough alcohol to cause drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper, which might put Him in violation of the aforementioned OT texts (if they apply to Him).

    Fifth, Bro. Buice’s post (#52) deals with a rather interesting exegetical issue. If “well drunk” means “intoxication” in every other occurrence of the term in Scripture (as Vincent suggests), then are you prepared to argue that Christ gave already intoxicated men even more alcohol?

    Here are the specific questions I would raise:

    1. Did Christ, as High Priest and King of Kings submit Himself to Leviticus 10:9 and Proverbs 31:4-5?
    2. Did Christ violate these texts by drinking wine (with enough alcoholic content to cause drunkenness) at any time?
    3. In light of these OT texts, would Christ (as High Priest and King) have made alcoholic wine (with enough alcoholic content to cause drunkenness) for others to consume?
    4. If the term “well drunk” means “intoxicated” in each of its other occurrences in Scripture, would Christ have offered wine (with enough alcoholic content to cause drunkenness) to already intoxicated people?

    In gospel fetters,

    Chipley McQueen Thornton

  58. Timmy Says:

    Chip,

    Thank you for the clarification. I just had time to peruse your comment and review your questions. In the interest of not leaving you “hanging.” I must notify you that I will most likely be away from the computer for the next as I will be on vacation with my wife and family. If I get the opportunity, I will respond to your questions. In the meantime, if anyone wants to chime in, please do. 🙂

    I apologize, Chip, if I mistreated your comments in an unfair manner. Please know that I value your input and in no way want to misconstrue your statements. Until I get to write again, you (and everyone else) have a great weeekend!

  59. Micah Says:

    Cool… Mark Lauterbach is my former pastor, a great preacher.

  60. Josh Buice Says:

    Have I missed something or has everyone avoided the question proposed by Chip? What about John 2? If the text indicates that the people were intoxicated, would Christ have provided alcoholic wine for their consumption?

    Furthermore, I would like to ask – Must Christ create wine with alcoholic content or can He simply create non-alcoholic wine [fresh fruit of the vine] without bacteria?

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  61. Timmy Says:

    Josh and Chip,

    As I have mentioned in several places, I have been on vacation this week and have not had access (and didn’t want access) to a computer. Therefore, I think my silence has produced a little discontentment on your end. No problem however, as silence is one of the most difficult things to discern. I have thought about Chips questions and yours as well over recent days, but I cannot gaurantee that more thought on my behalf will produce a more intelligible argument! 🙂 Let me say, however, I think this will be my last comment regarding this issue. We are nearing the point where circular reasoning wears a groove.

    Let me copy and paste Chip’s questions and insert a few comments:

    1. Did Christ, as High Priest and King of Kings submit Himself to Leviticus 10:9 and Proverbs 31:4-5?

    Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets to the degree that not even an iota or dot is unappreciated or unfulfilled in His perfect obedience as the Son of God. Jesus is the Great High Priest who has sympathized with our weaknesses and tempted in every way as we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:14-16).

    When you refer to the priestly vow to not drink wine, you ask the question which is intended to either say that Jesus did not submit the to priestly requirements and thus not fulfill the OT requirements or that he did and therefore did not drink wine. It is clear that several times Jesus did somethings which were unlawful such as healing and performing miracles on the Sabbath. Did Jesus sin by healing on the Sabbath?

    The point I am trying to make is that the Scripture reveals that Jesus drank wine and is the Great High Priest. Moreoever, I find it compelling that the blood of the new covenant which was poured out for us by sacrifice of Jesus is symbolized in the “fruit of the vine.” Chip, this question was constructed to justify your conclusions without taking other biblical data into account. Therefore, I believe it is misguided.

    Jesus is also King and Lord. Hs Priesthood and Kingship is not in question because he drank wine. You have taken two texts and developed an argument the Bible doesn’t make. For instance, why was King Lemuel not to drink wine or strong drink? There is a conditional statements made after this, such as “lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of the afflicted,” and further down you will see the mentioned of opening your mouth for the mute and defending the rights of all who are destitute, the poor, and the needy.

    Could you argue that Jesus was not able or did not accomplish these things in his earthly ministry? Is that not part of the reason for which he was sent? Did he not say that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news *to the poor*. He has sent me to proclaim liberty *to the captives* and recovering of sight *to the blind*, to set at liberty *those who are oppressed* (Luke 4:18-19). This text was also fulfilled in Jesus, ironically some of it being done on the Sabbath (such as healing the blind man). Jesus’ message and mission was to liberate sinners from the bondage of sin and free us to live for the glory of God. The fact that Jesus drank wine does not detract from this, but in the case of John 2 does exactly opposite as it reminds us of the celebration we have from being set free. The water of legalism and law has been replaced with the wine of the grace-based relationship grounded in the righteousness of Christ.

    2. Did Christ violate these texts by drinking wine (with enough alcoholic content to cause drunkenness) at any time?

    Therefore, no, Jesus did not violate these texts at any time, and yes, I do believe it was fermented wine.

    3. In light of these OT texts, would Christ (as High Priest and King) have made alcoholic wine (with enough alcoholic content to cause drunkenness) for others to consume?

    As I have stated earlier, there is no reason to conclude that Jesus didn’t make wine that was alcoholic. Furthermore, this doesn’t not detract from the sinless, perfect life of Christ. If so, do you not think that Jesus who drank wine and the authors who wrote these gospel accounts who have taken careful measures not to include such statements as the charge of Jesus being a drunkard and a glutton and the first miracle being that of turning water into wine? Not only in light of the OT texts, but in the entire plot-line of biblical and redemptive history, the argument that Jesus made alcoholic wine and drank it (in moderation) is acceptable in its historical and cultural setting. Moreover, let us not forget that other OT texts remind us that wine was drunk to gladden the heart and was intended to be received as a gift from God. So let’s not absolutize certain texts to the depreciation of others. Finally, in light of the Gospels and the progressive revelation into the NT, if the issue you raised was as big a problem as you seem to indicate, methinks there would be explicit commands not to drink wine at all. Isn’t that what you are shooting for? A biblical, unconditional command by God not to drink wine whatsoever? When it is not there (and it isn’t), then circumlocution becomes the norm.

    4. If the term “well drunk” means “intoxicated” in each of its other occurrences in Scripture, would Christ have offered wine (with enough alcoholic content to cause drunkenness) to already intoxicated people?

    I don’t know why you are asking the question. Does it matter? Secondly, he did not *offer* it. Jesus met a need by turning the water into wine, and that is all that text says. I am afraid that your questions continue to be hypothetically based upon conjecture and speculation. If we continue to ask questions about what we do not know, we continue to base our answers off such reasoning. If we seek to address what we do know based on what has been revealed to us, then we have sufficient grounds for discussion and progress.

    This has been my hope and aim throughout the discussion. I readily admit that there is a whole lot that I do not know. My greater problem is where my greater desire lies–that is, to know better what can be known through what God has revealed to me through His Word. I must qualify that statement in light of our discussion and say that I in no way am saying that extrabiblical literature and secondary sources are not helpful. However, my convictions on sola scriptura stands above them all.

    Your questions and arguments have been very helpful to me as I have wrestled with them over recent weeks. More than that, however, is the appreciation I have for you (and others who have been in the discussion). When we have worn this baby down, I hope that the outcome is we would have built each other up. You have for me, and I thank God for that. 🙂 Thank you for making such an investment in taking the time to discuss this, and I hope that in the future we can continue such fruitful conversations about other biblical matters as they arise. May the Lord Jesus bless you and cause you to increase in the knowledge of Him, love for the brethren, and faith in theOne who is transforming us for the good pleasure of our great God and Father.

  62. Chip Says:

    Sir Timmy,

    Thank you and I appreciate your response to my questions. I appreciate the time you took to provide a well thought-out answer.

    Warmest Blessings In Christ,

    Chipley McQueen Thornton

  63. Josh Buice Says:

    Timmy,

    You seem to be firm on your foundation that our Savior drank alcoholic wine and even produced alcoholic wine. I can’t get a straight answer out of anyone on what the purpose of creating alcoholic wine would be? After all, the alcohol was used for purification – wouldn’t Christ be able to produce wine which was without the impurities of bacteria?

    Furthermore, I think you should read Dr. Paige Patterson’s article on BP regarding this subject. It was published yesterday.

    LINK:FIRST- PERSON: Concerning alcoholic beverages by: Dr. Paige Patterson

    Rev. Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  64. Allan Says:

    Uh, this is not about the drinking thing…

    but Timmy,
    You said:
    It is clear that several times Jesus did somethings which were unlawful such as healing and performing miracles on the Sabbath. Did Jesus sin by healing on the Sabbath?

    Dude, think about that statement. IF Jesus did ANYTHING unlawfull He was not be our sinless sacrifice. We would not know sin if it were not for the law! The Pharasees ACCUSED him of violating the law but could not validate it because they had ADDED to Gods law with their man made laws. (example, if you were a taylor and left work with a needle still in your lapel at sunset, you were still considered at work and therefore in violation of the “law”) The law had judges that were supposed to judge righteously (with justice and mercy in reviewing any violations) There was no judge (literally speaking) presiding only false accusers and he disperced them as such.

    Secondly, (to Chip as well)
    Jesus was not the High Priest according to the order of the Levitical Priesthood and therefore held to any rendering of the law concering the priesthood. This according to Hebrews because 1. he was not from the tribe of Levi and 2. He BECAME the Great High Priest after the order or Melches-(umm, you know the rest) He was the Great High Priest superceeding the Levitical Priesthood and it’s confinement to the Law. He was not a priest while on earth but after His ressurection.

    Anyway, good discussions

  65. Timmy Says:

    Allan,

    I have thought about that statement which is precisely why I argued it. Jesus did not sin by healing on the Sabbath inasmuch he did not sin by drinking wine. I am not arguing against the sinless pefection of Christ but for it.

  66. Timmy Says:

    Josh,

    I see that you have taken this post and the questions Chip has asked on your blog and have a good discussion between a couple of guys. It seems that you are not through with discussing this issue, and I am glad that you have found others who are willing to take this up.

    Concerning how “firm” I am in my convictions, I do hold what I believe with certaintly, lest my beliefs be fickle or blind adherence. However, I am more than willing to be convinced otherwise and change my beliefs when the change is warranted. You have made your case, and I simply happen to find it unconvincing.

    Also, there is a whole lot of stock it seems every time Drs. Akin or Patterson comes out and makes an argument. They did this before with the endorsement of Dr. Ronnie Floyd for president of the SBC, and well, he got 24% of the vote. Look it, these guys don’t hold the trump cards in the argument, and while I have great respect for both of them, their arguments are just as fallible as mine (and yours).

    Furthermore, I could bit just as many first-rate Bible and NT scholars who are argue my position as the SBC does its political leaders. What’s the point in this? Why can’t we simply address what the Bible says? In this short discussion alone, I have watched out those who want to so desperately show that the Bible resolves that we should hold to total abstinence come up all kinds of arguments and appeals. One of the ironies I found in Dr. Patterson’s article is that he says,

    “In Jesus’ miracle at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), one can neither affirm with certainty that Jesus turned the water into a non-intoxicating wine nore that He drank wine himself. . . . The text nowhere indicates Jesus participated. Either way the argument is made from silence.”

    Then, one paragraph later, Patterson says,

    “From the standpoint of logic, the ‘oinos’ that Jesus produced was more like pure, rather than fermented, grace juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure.”

    Here you see someone clearly say that the Scripture is silent on this and any position is inconclusive. But then he goes on to speak where the Scripture is silent and make a conclusion! Oh, he argues from “the standpoint of logic,” but I can make that case from the standpoint as well. He does what he said we should not do and then makes an argument from logic and not Scripture (which any of us can do). This is not the type of argumentation I would be touting brother.

    Also, I keep on hearing that these articles are full of Scripture references and make a clear case for total abstinence. However, he has chosen the Scriptures that make his case and have ignored those which don’t. He cannot clearly provide a reasonable argument without weighing all the biblical data, not just the ones that prove his position.

    Finally, when one cannot argue that Jesus did not make wine, that it was not alcoholic, etc., the argument about doing “what is wise” or “what is best” is made. I understand this, but this argument is not unconditional nor universal. What is wise or best is different in different contexts.

    Brother, I am going to write this week how this issue is a psuedo-demarcation for believers as it has proved to be a dividing line in the SBC. This is really sad because we have made a nonessential the litmus test of conservativism and requirement for cooperation. This should not be so. If you read my previous comments, you will see where I have expressed my appreciation for your involvement in this discussion and moreso the hopes that I have two (you and Chip) new friends in the meantime. I pray this is the case.

  67. Josh Buice Says:

    Timmy,

    I am sad that you see my position unconvincing. I do appreciate your involvement in this discussion as it has taken some time to work through the ideas and articles.

    The issue for me has to do with the sinless state of Christ along with His omnipotence to produce non-bacteria drink. It is a proven issue that the “best” wine was always looked upon as the first fruit of the vine. Why must He produce juice with alcohol? That simply does not make sense.

    Although I reject the idea that Christ contributed to the drunk men in John 2, I do see that niether of our arguements are from Scripture. They are both based on the silent aspect between the text. Now, I would rather be in error by standing on my position than in error by standing in your position. I hope you see my position.

    For the glory of our God!

    Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  68. Nathan White Says:

    Josh,

    Will you please point us to a text from scripture where ‘wine’ is used to describe something non-alcoholic? Will you please share with us the hermenutic used to determine what was alcoholic and what was not when scripture uses the word ‘wine’? If you are unable to show these things from a text, would you consider that an argument from something other than ‘silence’?

    Also, consider the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. If there was a glutton among the crowd, and Jesus provided more than enough food (12 baskets overflowing), would you consider this as Jesus contributing to the sin of gluttony to that individual?

    SDG


Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: