Gospel Implications of Resolution No. 5

I believe Timmy Brister’s statement at the beginning of his article The Pseudo-Demarcation Line of Resolution No. 5 and the Shifting Sands of the SBC, when he wrote, “I had originally decided to not post this piece in hopes that the alcohol issue would eventually die.” From all the communication that I have had with Timmy, I know that his passion, like mine, is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and that his hope for Strange BaptistFire is that this blog can remain focused on clearly communicating the Gospel, especially by confronting beliefs that would confuse Gospel teaching, such as those previously broadcast at the now-defunct http://www.baptistfire.com website. And so to write about an alcohol resolution at the Southern Baptist Convention might seem like an unnecessary diversion away from issues concerning the Good News of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. But I believe that Timmy was right in addressing Resolution No. 5 and that there are clear implications for Gospel proclamation as a result of this resolution. In this post I hope to highlight 3 points Timmy made in the conclusion of his article linked above and to further explore some of the ways that this discussion may impact Gospel ministry.

Disclaimer:When the Apostle was defending the rights of Gospel ministers to receive financial support in I Corinthians 9, he made it clear that he himself chose not to receive financial support. Paul emphasized this point so that his readers could not charge that his teaching was motivated by selfishness. In a similar way, I feel compelled to once again stress that the three bloggers who have addressed the alcohol resolution on Strange BaptistFire- Nathan White, Timmy Brister, and now myself- are all tee-totalers by choice. Some seem to feel that anyone debating against the alcohol resolution only does so out of ‘worldiness’ or because we want to go hang at the bar with the boys. This is not the case, and I hope that all reading this will consider the thorough arguments previously posted by Timmy, and especially the summary of the Gospel implications of his arguments found here.

Additional preliminary note: I also agree with another blogger who wrote that Feinberg’s guidelines for questionable activities are helpful in considering the decision of whether to drink alcohol: 1) Am I fully persuaded that it is right?; 2) Can I do it as unto the Lord?; 3) Can I do it without being a stumbling block to my brother or sister in Christ? 4) Does it bring peace? 5) Does it edify my brother? 6) Is it profitable? 7) Does it enslave me? 8 ) Does it bring glory to God? (Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World, 1993). Given these guidelines, I cannot forsee a situation in my life- at least in the near future- in which I could, in good conscience, drink alcohol. And I believe that Nathan and Timmy have come to their decision in a similar way (we’re not just tee-totalers out of matters of personal taste). I believe that I am safe in speaking for all who write for Strange BaptistFire when I say that our chief objection to total abstinence from alcohol as it is promoted in this resolution is that actions such as this on the part of the Southern Baptist Convention take issues which should be matters of individual conscience before God and establish what effectively become extra-biblical commandments.

Gospel Implications of Resolution No. 5: The following 3 areas directly impact the Gospel witness of the Southern Baptist Convention, each of which are undermined by the outworking of Resolution No. 5:

  1. Concerning the sufficiency of Scripture: Nearly every speaker I heard at the SBC heartily affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture. But as Tom Ascol, the president of Founders’ Ministries, noted on a recent Calling for Truth radio broadcast, “Inerrancy- as important as it is to affirm that regarding the authority of Scripture- its not enough. We must not only recognize that the Bible is authoritative, but we must be willing to move forward in saying that the Bible is enough for us- it’s sufficient!” The sufficiency of Scripture- the teaching that the Scripture contains everything needed by the Christian in order to be instructed in life and godliness- is crucial to our Gospel witness. Many areas of the world- including places here in America, with the growing population from Mexico and other Latin American nations- have populaces that are bound to religions such as Roman Catholicism or Greek Orthodoxy, which seem to hold the Bible as crucial, but add commands to the Scripture that their adherents must be willing to follow if they wish to be saved. One of the privileges that we should have as witnesses of the true Gospel is that every word of our message and every action we take in spreading the Good News springs from the revelation of God rather than the traditions of men. When a Southern Baptist missionary, on the other hand, enters the house of someone from another culture and must decline the glass of wine offered him, thus insulting his host, due to a commandment NOT in the pages Scripture, but rather dictated by conventional guidelines, then the sufficient Word of God is not being honored and the purpose of the missionary becomes confused. This example is not merely hypothetical, but one that I have heard from friends returning from mission trips. I have written these comments hoping to further highlight the Gospel importance of Timmy’s statement, “Our conviction on the sufficiency of Scripture should cause us to rest in God’s complete revelation in the Word of God written and the Word of God Incarnate. Where Scriptures is silent, we must not speculate.”
  2. Concerning cooperation for the sake of the Gospel: The Southern Baptist Convention is meant to be a group of autonomous churches working together for the common purpose of reaching the entire world with the Good News of reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ the Lord. It is this common purpose that drives our unity. Issues that do not directly impact Gospel ministry, while they may be spoken about and debated at the denominational level, should not cause division. Now, I must point out that those who oppose actions of the Southern Baptist Convention such as Resolution No. 5 are in no way seeking to bar anyone from denominational leadership roles or to relegate anyone else within the Convention to some secondary status. But there have been those who support this resolution that have strongly implied that anyone arguing against this resolution has a worldly mindset, which would further imply that they are unfit for leadership. Also, some would prevent people who practice moderation rather than total abstinence from alcohol from being missionaries or serving the Convention in other important ways. And so the Convention is likely to lose member churches over what must be viewed as a secondary issue. And it is in this context that Timmy Brister noted the recent Together for the Gospel Conference, writing, “We are a convention being divided over such a pathetic issue as that of alcohol. We could learn some lessons from the T4G guys. Where they have learned to come together for the sake of the gospel, we have learned to be divided for the sake of alcohol. There could not be a more stark contrast than this!”
  3. Concerning life principles for the sake of the Gospel, with a specific application to the alcohol resolution: These last statements need no further comment, except to note the necessarily personal nature of applying the principles which follow. Extra-biblical guidelines are no real help in answering the following questions, as they have to do with getting to the heart motivation behind the choices we make: “There are three “all’s” which I try to think of regularly during my day. They are, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do ALL (everything) in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17), and “I do ALL things for the sake of the gospel, that I may be a fellow partaker of it” (1 Cor. 9:23). The glory of God. The name of the Lord Jesus. The gospel of Jesus Christ. These three we should do in all things, including what we eat and drink. Do I believe someone can drink wine in moderation to the glory of God? Yes I do. Jesus did.”
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4 Comments on “Gospel Implications of Resolution No. 5”


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I have learned alot about the subject of alcohol and the Bible since this whole thing started. But now, I’m not learning about alcohol anylonger, I’m learning about how some will divide brothers over extrabiblical “gray” issues.

    CR

  2. Mathew Sims Says:

    I have appreciated the balance and love presented in this article and Timmy’s. I really like the way Piper described it…I think Timmy made note of it: “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.”

    The symptons are being attacked without every attacking the real issue. It would be like me covering a bullet wound with a band aid. Will this resolution really help curb drunkness and encourage Spirit-filledness? I don’t think so.

    For what it is worth, I don’t drink either.

    MBS
    Soli Deo Gloria

  3. Gene Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I have learned alot about the subject of alcohol and the Bible since this whole thing started.

    And for that reason, we must thank those who passed the resolution, for we are now having discussions about what Scripture says. Healthy theological discussion based on Scripture is always a big plus…but, alas, it is also true that we are having to watch some divide over it, embarrassing themselves and the Convention. Take the good, and leave the bad, Christopher.

  4. Nathan White Says:

    I second that Gene. This issue has brought some excellent discussions about what Scripture teaches and how it should be interpreted, and I have certainly benefited from it all. I was just telling my friends last night how much I have been edified from this discussion on the blogsphere. That is certainly what it is all about…

    SDG


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