Saturday, July 29, 2006

God's Word

Let’s encourage each other with God’s Word.

What’s your favorite verse? Why?
What verse is the most interesting to you?
If you have a life verse, what is it?

I love the liveliness of the King James translation. Like when Luke said, “the Jews took unto them certain lewd fellows of a baser sort.” However, some of my friends are King James ONLY, I enjoy asking them what the following verse in the King James Bible means:)

“At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.” (1 Chr. 26:18)

April and I will be on the road to TEXAS for a couple of days. Vacation:)

Please abide by our new rules.

We will continue the alcohol study when I receive the next article.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bloggers: Are They Really Honoring Christ?

Blogging can be dangerous. It is certainly not for the weak, and some question if it is for the Godly. I think it can be used for good, yet have seen abuses by veteran bloggers. Allow me to illustrate and draw some conclusions for application.

1. Not long ago there was a post, by one of the more well-recognized bloggers among Southern Baptists, implying impropriety at a “very-high” level in the administration at SWBTS. Then, in the comment section, when asked of the validity of his statement, the Blog Administrator said “everything I write is well researched and usually verified by a minimum of 2-3 sources.” Later, when a different scenario was suggested, the Blog Administrator said the “connection I have insinuated was wrong.” However, no POST retracting the scenario has been posted (which, even if it had, would not reverse the damage). Moreover, only if one reads through the 80 plus comment section does he realize the error of the original post.

2. On two other recognized blogs, I have been accused of holding to a “private interpretation” of the Abstract of Principles (ONE of the documents professors at Southeastern have to sign) and “interpreting them as long as I get to define their meaning.” These accusations were also made by veterans of the blogging world, in spite of the fact I have never said either of them..

The latter accusation took a statement I made about Calvinism out of its context, and then amazingly replaces the statement “3 Points of Calvinism” with “Abstract of Principles.”

The former was made because I said I signed the Abstract according to my understanding (which is not private) of what it says. Further, I went to great lengths to make my position very clear (ie – I cannot sign the Abstract based on what John or Tom or Fred understands them to say, for I am not John or Tom or Fred…I am Brad). I even revealed that my understanding fits into the parameters of what Dr. Mohler and Dr. Akin believe the Abstract to be saying.

And yet, amazingly these accusations are STILL made without any retractions.

You can imagine the unchristian comments and untruths these Posts generated. The statements, comments, and accusations were false and horribly inaccurate, however, I have done things in my life much worse than I was accused of. Thus, what concerns me is not what the Blog Administrators said or implied, but that they made such errors in the first place. These intelligent men are far more experienced bloggers than most of us. I believe their motives to be pure in a pursuit of truth. I further believe they are Christian men who love our Savior.

Yet, if these men can err like this, then what hope do we have of avoiding such.

Wade Burleson posted an excellent article on his blog written by Alan Jacobs author of “The Narnian: The life and Imagination of CS Lewis.” I shall quote:

“As I think about these architectural deficiencies (of the blogosphere), and the deficiencies of my own character, I find myself meditating on a passage from a book by C. S. Lewis. In his great work of literary history, Poetry and Prose in the Sixteenth Century, Lewis devotes a passage to what he describes, with a certain savageness, as "that whole tragic farce which we call the history of the Reformation." For Lewis, the issues that divided Catholics and Protestants, that led to bloodshed all over Europe and to a seemingly permanent division of Christians from one another, "could have been fruitfully debated only between mature and saintly disputants in close privacy and at boundless leisure." Instead, thanks to the prevalence of that recent invention the printing press, and to the intolerance of many of the combatants, deep and subtle questions found their way into the popular press and were immediately transformed into caricatures and cheap slogans. After that there was no hope of peaceful reconciliation.

On a smaller scale, the same problems afflict the intellectual and moral environments of the blogs. There is no privacy: all conversations are utterly public. The arrogant, the ignorant, and the bullheaded constantly threaten to drown out the saintly, and for that matter the merely knowledgeable, or at least overwhelm them with sheer numbers. And the architecture of the blog (and its associated technologies like rss), with its constant emphasis on novelty, militates against leisurely conversations. It is no insult to the recent, but already cherished, institution of the blogosphere to say that blogs cannot do everything well. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought.”

Wow…very powerful, insightful, and convicting. Wade, thank you for the post.

I have a strong desire to address the issues before SB. But I also have an even stronger desire, to do so in a way that honors Christ. I have no desire for this blog to devolve into the kind of antagonism that is already too prevalent. A brawl draws a larger crowd than gentlemanly discussion, but I’m not interested in getting a crowd. So I have some new guidelines for our comments.

1. Any comment that attacks another person (questioning his integrity, his motives, or implying he is cognitively challenged) will be removed and the commenter will be asked to restate his comment.
2. Any anonymous comment will be removed unless the commenter gives his name.
3. Since, I too am subjective and overlook things, if a commenter thinks I have missed an unwholesome comment he shall e-mail me his concerns.

Further, all participants should assume those who differ with them are their brothers/sisters in Christ who have pure motives, love Jesus, and are sincerely searching for truth. Also, participants should NOT assume others are assailing them; therefore, statements like: “I hear you saying ______, is that what you are saying?” are encouraged.

Am I overlooking something? If so, help me out.

I ask your forgiveness as readers for not applying these rules sooner.

Now to a wider application. I agree with Dr. Jacobs, there is a problem. Could we be proactive with a solution? What do you think about creating some accountability on Blogs. Creating some sort of an organization of professional Christian Bloggers with standards concerning membership: distinguishing professionalism from sensationalism. Could we juror ourselves; where statements and implications (especially of organizations or individuals) in Posts must be FACTUAL? Could we design such an organization that is a witness to all and admired as an example of Christian conversation and conduct?

Such an organization would obviously require representatives from diverse perspectives.

I’m just thinking out loud. What do you think?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dr. Patterson's Article

“Resolved that Southern Baptists continue to adhere to and promote vigorously and positively their commitment to abstinence from alcohol” – SBC Resolution, 1979

Notice the dates on the alcohol resolutions I’ve posted. Even before the Conservative Resurgence, the Moderates promoted abstention. This was something Moderates and Conservatives alike agreed upon.


Paige Patterson


References to wine are frequent in both the Old and New Testaments. The Massoretic text of the Old Testament employs yayin in the vast majority of cases--141 times to be exact. A handful of other words are translated “wine” but not with enough frequency to matter. The term oinos (Gk.) is used predominantly in the New Testament, and coming through Latin is transliterated into English as “wine.” The Greek term gleukos (lit., “sweet wine”) is sometimes used.
The wines varied in kind and strength. However, four basic varieties, all of which are described indiscriminately by oinos, may be distinguished:

(1) Freshly pressed grape juice, which had been stomped out by the, hopefully, clean feet of a local family in their private wine vats or else crushed in grape presses of stone. In the climate of Palestine, fermentation began within 24 hours; so pure grape juice was available only for a brief time.
(2) The initial, violent, foaming fermentation period lasted about one week. The wine was then transferred to new wineskins for 40 days of further fermentation. The heavier matter, “lees” or “dregs,” would settle to the bottom, and then the wine would be drawn off, providing the daily drink.
(3) Sometimes the wine would be left on the lees to ferment still further, making a real knock-out punch, but one evidently imbibed by only a few since it often turned insipid and sometimes unbearable (see Jer. 48:11).
(4) Wine was frequently diluted with water or herbs or both. Jesus was offered on the cross such a concoction of cheap, low-grade wine, which He refused.

The Attitude of Scripture

In strict fairness, one must acknowledge that the ancients, however noble, imbibed without reluctance. Evidently the prophets and the apostles did not view this as wrong so long as it was a small glass of wine (see varieties #1, #2, or #4 mentioned above) taken with the noon or evening meal. These wines, of course, were locally produced.
At this point, however, a significant difference exists in what is permissible and what is best for the child of God. In addition to the constant clear identification of drunkenness as a highly disreputable and debilitating sort of sin, please note the following:

(1) The Nazarite (one who was especially separated unto God) was prohibited from the use of wine altogether (see Num. 6:3; Judg. 13: 4-7, 13-14).
(2) In Jeremiah 35, the Rechabites are highly commended by God and by Jeremiah for their total abstinence (see vv. 1-10).
(3) John the Baptist, touted by Jesus as “the greatest born among men,” was a total abstainer. He was evidently patterning his lifestyle after that of the Nazarite Law and thereby expressing God’s prescription for what is the best for a godly man. In fact, the angelic announcement to Zacharias prohibited the use of any wine by John the Baptist (Luke 1:15). Here also is noted the first specific contrast between the fullness of the Spirit and the use of wine. This contrast occurs again at Pentecost (Acts 2) and is mentioned in Ephesians 5:18.
In the three instances outlined above, the very significant question “why?” must be broached. Apparently of the three categories given—prohibition, acceptability, or God’s ideal—the above situations fall under the ideal of complete abstinence and hence appear to be most acceptable to God.

(4) To this evidence must be added Scripture’s numerous warnings against strong drink. Here are a few:
(a) Strong drink is deceitful. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whosoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
(b) Strong drink is prohibited for those in leadership. “It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes intoxicating drink” (Prov. 31:4-5).
(c) Strong drink has a side-effect—weakness in judgment. “But they also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Is. 28:7).
(d) Strong drink may dull the senses so that embarrassment comes—even indecent exposure. “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness! You are filled with shame instead of glory, you also—drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, and utter shame will be on your glory” (Hab. 2:15-16).
(e) Another result of strong drink is overindulgence. “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!” (Is. 5:11).

Some Texts to be Explained by Abstainers

(1) In Jesus’ miracle at Cana of Galilee (Jn. 2:1-11), one can neither affirm with certainty that Jesus turned the water into a non-intoxicating wine nor that He drank no wine Himself. But the following evidences cannot be easily bypassed:

(a) The text nowhere indicates that Jesus participated. Either way the argument is from silence.
(b) The governor of the feast obviously was able to identify “good wine” by tasting it, indicating that there was no intoxication on his part. On the other hand, by his own testimony participants generally, by the last stages of such a feast, had their senses sufficiently dulled so that they could not differentiate between good and bad wine. Was this feast different? Is this why Jesus agreed to attend?
(c) From a standpoint of logic, the oinos that Jesus produced was more likely pure, rather than fermented, grape juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure. Also, there was no time subsequent to the miracle for fermentation to take place. Furthermore, the ancients always acknowledged that the best oinos was the unferemented oinos, i.e., that which came from the initial mixing of the grapes.
(2) The accusation that Jesus, in contrast to John, was a socialite, a glutton, and a winebibber is manifestly void of foundation (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). Because Jesus enjoyed social contacts and openly mingled with the people, some assumed that He had a propensity for food and drink. If Jesus had been a winebibber, He must have also been guilty of a gluttony, which is clearly identified as a sin. In fact, Jesus was neither, and again there is no evidence that He drank oinos or anything other than the fresh natural fruit of the vine.
(3) Paul advised Timothy to imbibe a little wine for his stomach’s sake (1 Tim. 5:23). Note the following:
(a) The purpose here is clearly medicinal. Timothy was obviously not in full health. In the absence of more advanced medications, this command is certainly understandable. Furthermore, in the case of no superior medication, wine might be justified as medication, but only if, taken as “a little wine.”
(b) Furthermore, the clear case of religious abstinence from wine, i.e., total abstinence, is often overlooked. Timothy is drinking only water. Then Paul said, you need the wine for medical purposes. What is to be said of the reason for Timothy’s abstinence to this point?

Some Added Observations

(1) In the accounts of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels and in First Corinthians, the word wine (oinos, Gk.) is mysteriously absent. They take “the cup” and drink the “fruit of the vine.” The absence of the term oinos is curious to say the least.
(2) Wine has one unqualified good use in Scripture and that is as a metaphor for the wrath of God. This metaphor is utilized in both Old and New Testaments (see Rev. 19:15). The oinos of God’s wrath is unmixed or undiluted, fresh from the wine press, unhindered by fermentation of any kind. Hence purity of judgment is emphasized.
(3) The bishop (pastor) is to be free from wine (1 Tim. 3:3). One would presume that this admonition, at least part, is for example. If so, again the ideal would be total abstinence for all who make up the body of Christ, i.e., the church.
(4) For the believer to say, “Let me get as close to sin as I can without being guilty” indicates a strange mentality indeed! The object should rather be to stay as far away as one can from even the appearance of evil and as close to Christ as possible (1 Thess. 5:22).


The following conclusions may be safely drawn.

(1) Many of the most excruciating and debilitating events of history are associated with wine. The Bible has almost no good word about it and, in fact, usually associates tragedy and sin with the use of wine. For example, Noah, after a life of exemplary behavior, becomes a stumbling block to his own children, necessitating a curse on his grandson, as a result of wine. This first mention of wine in Scripture is bad.
(2) To whatever extent wine was used by Jesus or others, clearly it was in small quantities and either at meals or for medicinal purposes. Certainly no tragic industry was supported by the selling and buying of wine. This latter point is crucial for the believer. A believer in no way can justify drinking if thereby he is contributing to the sustenance of an industry responsible for two thirds of the violent deaths, two fifths of all divorces, one third of all crime, and untold millions in damage to private property. Such would violate all laws in the Bible and especially the Corinthian Principles as outlined below:
(a) The effect of your choices and actions on others. “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Cor. 8:13).
(b) The effect of your choices and actions on you yourself. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful: all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23).
(c) The effect of your choices and actions on the kingdom of God. “Therefore, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
(3) Let us return to the three categories—the prohibited, the acceptable, and God’s ideal. God originally intended monogamy. For a while He tolerated polygamy, even working mightily through such men as Solomon and Abraham, despite their polygamous marriages. But with the final revelation of God in Christ, polygamy was once again clearly prohibited. The noticeable absence of any mention of wine prior to Noah might indicate that men, in their pristine state, were not drawn to wine. In any case, the fuller revelation in Christ plus the development of superior medications and purer drinking substances render the whole subject passe for the believer.
Even if a Christian wished to demur from the idea that to take a drink is sin, strict biblical evidence establishes that imbibing in strong drink is not God’s ideal for the believer. The question then becomes: Can it be anything less than sin for a believer who is genuinely grateful for the atoning power of Christ in his life to pursue anything other than the highest—God’s ideal— the best that he can be for Christ?

Dr. Akin's Article

I know the next two articles have been posted on BP, I have had them before then but held them for the study. I post them for those who may have missed them and for the purpose of our study. Check out George Whitefield’s comment below.

QUOTES AND MORE: - George Whitefield

“It is true (as I observed at the beginning of this discourse) our blessed Savior did come eating and drinking; he was present at a wedding, and other entertainments; nay, at one of them worked a miracle to make wine, (you see I have been making some observations on it) but then it is not plain there had been more wine drank than was absolutely necessary for the support of nature; much less does it appear, that something had been indulged to pleasure and cheerfulness.
The governor does indeed say, "When men have well drunken," but it no where appears that they were the men. Is it to be supposed, that the most holy and unspotted Lamb of God, who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and who, when at a Pharisee's house, took notice of even the gestures of those with whom he sat at meat; is it to be supposed, that our dear Redeemer, whose constant practice it was to tell people they must deny themselves, and take up their crosses daily; who bid his disciples to take heed, lest at any time their hearts might be over-charged with surfeiting and drunkenness; can it be supposed, that such a self-denying Jesus should now turn six large water-pots of water into the richest wine, to encourage excess and drunkenness in persons, who, according to this writer, had indulged to pleasure and cheerfulness already? Had our Lord sat by, and seen them indulge, without telling them of it, would it not be a sin? But to insinuate he not only did this, but also turned water into wine, to increase that indulgence; this is making Christ a minister of sin indeed. What is this, but using him like the Pharisees of old, who called him a glutton, and a wine-bibber? Alas! how may we expect our dear Lord's enemies will treat him, when he is thus wounded in the house of his seeming friends? Sirs, if you follow such doctrine as this, you will not be righteous, but I am persuaded you will be wicked over-much.” (Whitefield – Marriage at Cana).


The Case for Alcohol Abstinence
Daniel L. Akin

I readily confess to a personal bias when it comes to the issue of alcohol. My wife Charlotte grew up in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home because her parents were alcoholics. Her father died a lost alcoholic. Her mother, by God’s grace, was saved on her death bed. Her body had been ravaged by the twin killers of alcohol and tobacco. Today her sister and brother are lost alcoholics as is most of the rest of her family. My sister Joy and her husband Kevin King adopted a daughter born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She began life with two strikes against her through no fault of her own. Today there are more than 40 million problem drinkers in America. Alcohol is the number one drug problem among teenagers. One in three American families suspects that one or more family members have a drinking problem. Misuse of alcohol costs our nation $100 billion a year in quantifiable cost. Because of these experiences and many more, I have often said that even if I were not a Christian I would have nothing to do with alcohol. There is simply too much sorrow and heartache connected to it. Avoiding this devastating drug is simply the wise thing to do.

This year at our Convention we again passed a resolution calling for abstinence from alcohol. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, but it did generate significant debate both during and after the Convention. Some have accused those supporting the resolution of being pharisaical and legalistic, traditionalist and anti-biblical. It is said that we fail to understand Christian liberty and freedom, and that we even stand against Jesus. These are strong accusations from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. However, are they correct? Are those like myself who believe abstinence to be the best lifestyle choice really guilty of these charges? Let me respond as graciously and kindly as I possibly can, explaining why I hold the position I do. I share my heart with no malice or ill will toward anyone, but from a desire to honor the Lord Jesus, and to protect others from the evils alcohol has visited on so many.

We should remember from a Baptist perspective that there are historical precedents for affirming abstinence. In 1886 Southern Baptists issued their first resolution on alcohol. Since then there have been almost 60 resolutions that in a united voice have addressed the risk of alcohol and the wisdom of abstinence. For 120 years Southern Baptists have made clear their stand on this issue. Individual Baptists no doubt continue to take a drink as they had before 1886, but the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole has been crystal clear on where it stands for a long time. I am confident that our forefathers understood the issue of Christian liberty as they passed these resolutions. I am grateful for this tradition. I believe we should continue it.

There are moral reasons for affirming abstinence. John Piper teaches the wisdom of abstinence because alcohol can be a mind-altering drug, and it can be addictive. It does not help one in doing the will of God and can genuinely be a hindrance. Further, he notes “the carnage of alcohol abuse” and therefore chooses to boycott such a product. He then adds, “is it really so prudish, or narrow to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker.” Some questions are in order and deserve an answer. Does alcohol make me a better person? Does alcohol draw me closer to God? Does alcohol help me run the race faithfully to the end (Heb. 12:1-2)?

Some respond by saying the issue is not abstinence but moderation. They draw an analogy to both eating and sex. There is however a significant difference. We must eat to live. We must engage in sex to procreate. Alcohol is not a necessity for life or good living.

I am in total agreement with my spiritual hero Adrian Rogers who said, “Moderation is not the cure for the liquor problem. Moderation is the cause of the liquor problem. Becoming an alcoholic does not begin with the last drink, it always begins with the first. Just leave it alone.” My friend James Merritt wisely says, “It is impossible to be bitten by a snake that you never play with.” Alcoholism cannot strike unless it is given the opportunity. That happens the moment one takes the first drink.
There are biblical reasons for practicing abstinence. Let me quickly note several. 1) It is consistent with the principle of edification (1 Cor. 6:12). Alcohol does not build you up or make you better for Jesus. Avoiding it ensures you will not harm yourself with it. 2) It is consistent with the principle of refusing that which enslaves (1 Cor. 6:12). Alcohol is a drug that can impair the senses and has a potential addictive element. Like addictive pornography, it should be avoided at all cost. 3) It is consistent with the ethic of love for believers and unbelievers alike (1 Cor. 8:13; 9:19-22; 10:32-33). Because I am an example to others, I will make certain no one ever walks the road of sorrow called alcoholism because they saw me take a drink and assumed, “if it is alright for Danny Akin, it is alright for me.” No, I will choose to set an uncompromising example of abstinence because I love them. 4) I will seek my joy and filling in the Spirit not in alcohol. I love the Phillips translation of Ephesians 5:18 which reads, “Don’t get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.” Psalm 4:7-8 adds, “You [O Lord] have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” 5) It is true Jesus drank wine, and I am sure I would have had I lived in the first century. However, there is no evidence that he ever partook of “strong drink.” As Bob Stein has carefully documented, “The term “wine” or oinos in the ancient world, then, did not mean wine as we understand it today but wine mixed with water… To consume the amount of alcohol that is in two martinis by drinking wine containing three parts water to one part wine [a fairly common ancient ratio], one would have to drink over twenty-two glasses. In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before it affected the mind.” It should also be noted that children would have drank this diluted mixture of water and wine. It seems clear that there is no one-to-one correspondence with first century wine and twenty first century distilled liquor. Concerning the latter I believe the Lord Jesus would have no part.
Let me conclude with some practical considerations. Should those who practice abstinence look down on those who do not? The answer is an unqualified no. That is pride and therefore is sin. It is true that alcohol has contributed to many going to hell, but pride, no doubt, has done so in even greater numbers. A smug, prideful abstainer without Jesus is just as lost as the poor drunkard who is always in search of another drink. Those who believe in abstinence should be gracious and humble, kind and caring, loving and patient.

As a pastor or church leader, would I demand abstinence for church membership? No, I would not. Would I demand it for leadership? Absolutely! The principle of Proverbs 31:4-5 is appropriately applied here, “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.”

I agree with John MacArthur. Can I say it is always a sin to take a drink? No. Can I say it is almost always unwise? Yes, because it violates the biblical principles of wisdom and witness. One of America’s leading pastors is Andy Stanley. He wrote a book entitled The Best Question Ever. That question is this, “What is the wise thing for me to do?” I challenge anyone to show me the superior wisdom of drinking “in moderation,” as opposed to not drinking at all. This is not legalism but love. This is not being anti-biblical but pro-brother and sister. This is not working for evil but for good. Given the world in which we live I believe such a lifestyle honors the Lord Jesus. I believe it pleases Him. Without question it is the wise thing to do.

For those intersted I have replied to ConcernedSBCer's latest post in my comments.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dr. Richard Land's Article on Alcohol - Not His BP Release

This is Dr. Land's article. It was written by Dr. Land and Barrett Duke. It is not his BP release yesterday. It is different. And typical of these men, they leave no stone unturned. It is thorough.

On Alcohol Use
By Richard Land
President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Barrett Duke
Vice President for Public Policy, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Southern Baptists have been known historically as total abstainers. Not all Southern Baptists have adhered to this commitment, but if one were to examine the constitution of most Southern Baptist churches, certainly most of those constituted prior to 1960, one would probably find a clause in which the congregation pledged itself to refrain from the use and sale of alcoholic beverages.

While the Bible may be subject to various interpretations concerning alcohol consumption (as well as the nature of the beverage consumed), Southern Baptists’ understanding of the issue has been exceedingly unambiguous. In the Convention’s history, SBC messengers have adopted over forty resolutions on the issue prior to this year—as recently as 1991 and as early as 1886.

Southern Baptists meeting in session have called their brothers and sisters to live “an exemplary Christian lifestyle of abstinence from beverage alcohol and all other harmful drugs” (1984); to recognize alcohol as “America’s number one drug problem” (1982); to “reaffirm our historic position as opposing alcohol as a beverage” (1978); to view “personal abstinence” as the “Christian way” (1957); to express their “unceasing opposition to the manufacture, sale and use of alcoholic beverages” (1955); to realize alcohol is a “habit-forming and destructive poison” (1940) and the “chief source of vice, crime, poverty and degradation” (1936); and to “reassert our truceless and uncompromising hostility to the manufacture, sale, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages” (1896).

Over the last two decades, the attitude of some Southern Baptists toward alcohol use has moderated, however. This is especially true among younger adult Southern Baptists. No doubt many factors have contributed to this shift. Greater social acceptance of drinking, very little preaching on the “evils of alcohol,” a more secularized church community, and a growing attitude of independence among church members have all contributed in various ways.

The greatest evidence of the recent shift in attitudes toward alcohol consumption occurred at the 2006 annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. At that meeting, the Resolutions Committee brought a resolution that called on churches to reaffirm their historical attitude toward alcohol consumption. If this resolution had been presented twenty years earlier, it would have been met with yawns, with many present wondering why the Convention needed to spend time on an issue that was so settled among Southern Baptists. However, this meeting revealed a much different attitude. There were certainly no yawns. In fact, that resolution produced more discussion and dissent than any other resolution presented at the meeting. Some messengers were so convinced of their freedom to consume alcoholic beverages that they took to the floor of the convention and urged the body not to adopt the resolution. In the end, according to press reports more than four-fifths approved the resolution, but a small, vocal group voted against it.

When one considers the high cost of alcohol abuse to individuals, families, and society, it is surprising that some Southern Baptists insist on their right to drink. Alcohol problems cost American society more than $184 billion per year in health care, criminal justice, social services, property damage, and loss of productivity expenses. Alcohol is a factor in as many as 105,000 deaths annually in the United States and a primary contributor to a wide array of health problems and human suffering. These include various cancers, liver disease, alcoholism, brain disorders, motor vehicle crashes, violence, crime, spousal and child abuse, drownings, and suicides. Even those who are able to control their drinking should recognize that they are engaged in a behavior that is destroying millions of lives, and choose to abstain rather than encourage by their behavior someone to drink who will not be able to control his drinking.

In modern American society, the human toll taken by alcohol abuse is staggering. According to a recent USA Today/HBO poll, 20 percent of Americans indicated they “had an immediate relative who at some point had been addicted to alcohol or drugs.” The article, “In Tim Ryan's Family, He is the Addict,” in the July 20, 2006 issue of USA Today notes, “That translates into roughly 40 million American adults with a spouse, parent, sibling or child battling addiction.”

When you add the millions of children living with addicted parents, you are talking about a devastating problem that adversely impacts the lives of nearly half the people in our nation—and virtually all users of other drugs start with alcohol, that’s why it’s called the “gateway” drug. The USA Today article quotes Sis Wenger, executive director of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, as saying, “For every person who’s alcoholic or dependent on other drugs, there are at least four or five people hurt on a regular basis.”

Of course, one must be careful when speaking to the issue of alcohol consumption. After all, many medicines contain alcohol. One can find it in fairly high percentages in cough syrup, for example. Compared to beverage alcohol, some over-the-counter nighttime cold syrups are more than fifty proof. That’s a fairly high alcohol content, higher than beer and wine. As far as we know, no one would consider it sinful or inappropriate if someone drank these medications to help cope with the symptoms of a cold or flu.

What is of concern when it comes to alcohol consumption, however, is its recreational/social use. While about 60 percent of the United States population drinks alcohol recreationally/socially, the historic Southern Baptist attitude has been opposed to this use of alcohol. What the last Southern Baptist Convention meeting revealed, however, is that this is changing, at least among a vocal minority of church pastoral leadership. No one has a firm statistic on just how many Southern Baptists drink alcohol recreationally/socially, but most of those who have been paying attention know that some Southern Baptists drink alcoholic beverages at least occasionally. To date, this attitude has not flowed very far into the ranks of the pastoral staff. Most pastoral staff still do not drink alcoholic beverages.

Because alcohol is such a dangerous substance, and because attitudes toward alcohol use appear to be changing among some Southern Baptists, it is necessary to be reminded of the Scriptural teaching on the issue. Both the Old and New Testaments speak of alcoholic beverages, and they use many words to refer to them. In the Old Testament, one finds at least eight words that refer to the juice of the grape and a couple words that refer to beverages with higher alcohol content, often translated as “strong drink” or “liquor.” Practically all of the uses of these words speak of alcoholic beverages in a negative context. However, it appears that the negative aspect is principally related to the debilitating effects on people, not on the alcoholic beverage in itself. Alcohol as a substance is not evil. For example, Psalm 104:14-15 speaks of wine, “which makes man’s heart glad,” as one of God’s provisions for man. Wine is often mentioned as one of the ingredients used in offerings to God (see Ex. 29:40). Even sweet wine, which is thought by many to be mere grape juice, can debilitate (see Hos. 4:11), yet Joel 3:18, speaking of the day when God restores Judah, says “the mountains will drip with sweet wine.” The same can be said for the Hebrew word translated “strong drink.” While there does not appear to be any positive reference to people drinking “strong drink,” it was used in drink offerings to the Lord, which certainly suggests that it was not an “evil” substance (see Num. 28:7, and Dt. 14:26, where the word is certainly used in the context of purchasing offering items).

The New Testament has a more limited vocabulary to refer to alcoholic beverages. The principal Greek word (“oinos”), translated “wine,” is used more than thirty times. When used in its non-metaphorical sense, it appears to run the full gamut of meanings, from grape juice, usually qualified by the adjective “new,” to the fully fermented alcoholic beverage. While it is common knowledge that people drank beverages containing alcohol in the early days of the church, the New Testament is not nearly as accommodating of the practice. In fact, except for the handful of references in the Gospels that speak of wine, (Jesus’ lesson about new wine and wineskins, Mt. 9:17; Mk. 2:22; Lk. 5:37-38; John the Baptist, Lk. 1:15; 7:33; medicinal use rejected by Jesus, Mr. 15:23; Lk. 10:34; and the wedding feast at Cana, Jn. 2:3, 9, 10; 4:46), and the neutral and metaphorical references in Revelation (wine spared destruction, Rev. 6:6; wine as a metaphor for wrath, Rev. 14:8, 10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3; and as a commercial product, Rev. 18:13), one encounters only negative statements about the non-medicinal use of alcoholic beverages. In Acts 2:13 the observers supposed that the apostles were full of “sweet wine” because of their behavior when the Holy Spirit had filled them. Except for one reference to its medicinal use (1 Tim. 5:23), all of the remaining references, to the actual fermented juice of the grape are warnings or prohibitions to its use or abuse, (see Rom. 14:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3). In addition, the New Testament calls Christians to sobriety, which while not alluding solely to the issue of alcohol abuse certainly includes it (1 Thess. 5:1-11), and to lifestyles contrary to those of the debauched culture (Lk. 21:34-36; Rom. 13:12-14; Gal. 5:19-24; 1 Pet. 4:1-6).

While the use by some biblical characters of alcoholic beverages is undeniable, it is important to note that the beverages these men and women consumed were not the kinds of alcoholic beverages people consume today. The alcohol content of beverages referred to in the Bible was considerably lower than many of today’s alcoholic beverages. Additionally, we must keep in mind that sanitary conditions were not what they are today. Alcohol provided an ideal way to maintain the potability of beverages. Without it, people would have suffered even more from common parasites and other health threatening ailments resulting from ingesting contaminated water (see 1 Tim. 5:23).

Even so, one could certainly still overdo it when drinking these beverages, and unfortunately, some biblical characters did on occasion. It is important to note that when they did, the Bible seldom had anything positive to say about it. Indeed, their drunkenness usually resulted in inappropriate behavior, which was subsequently denounced by the biblical writer. Just consider the Bible’s depictions and negative view of the drunken behavior of Noah (Gen. 9:20-27), Lot (Gen. 19:30-38), and Xerxes I (Est. 1:10-11).

When one wants to find a positive picture of alcohol in the Bible, one must look at it from a much different angle—the angle of abstinence. Those among Israel who chose to dedicate themselves in service to the Lord in a special way actually abstained from drinking alcohol as part of their commitment. These people were called Nazirites (Num. 6:1-21), and they were cherished by the Lord for their commitment. While Samson’s life was tragic in many ways, he was a Nazirite. He is the only judge whose birth was announced by the angel of the Lord, who instructed Manoah and his wife to raise Samson as a Nazirite (Jud. 13:1-25). Those who coaxed Nazirites to break their vows by drinking wine were condemned by God (see Amos 2:11-12).

Of course, not everyone who was committed to serving the Lord was a Nazirite, and no doubt, some of these others drank beverages containing alcohol. As we have noted, on many occasions it would have been very difficult not to do so, simply because the means to maintaining a healthy level of hydration required drinking beverages that contained at least trace amounts of alcohol. It certainly appears that Jesus was not a Nazirite, and that there were times when the beverage placed before Him probably contained alcohol. Indeed, Jesus appears to draw attention to this when He distinguished Himself from John the Baptist. In Mathew 11:18-19, He said, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard.’”

Before anyone decides to use Jesus as his excuse to drink alcohol, however, it is crucial to note that the term “drunkard” was used by His enemies in an attempt to discredit Him. He does not admit to ever being drunk in this passage. He does seem, however, to indicate that he did not totally abstain from beverages that had any alcohol content as well as engaging in other activities contrary to John’s practices, like socializing with various groups of “unacceptable” people. Jesus wasn’t engaged in drinking alcoholic beverages because He felt it was His right to do so, He was doing this to make a point—that the unbelieving just looked for excuses not to believe.

People often refer to Jesus’ miracle at the wedding feast at Cana as evidence that he approved of alcohol consumption (Jn. 2:1-11). We must note several important features, however. First, we cannot be positive that what Jesus created had alcoholic content. The headwaiter may have been commenting on how good the wine tasted not about its alcohol content. Second, John tells us that Jesus performed this miracle as a “sign” (Jn. 2:11). He intended that those who witnessed this would see a spiritual significance in the miracle, not focus on the wine. In other words, He created the wine for another purpose, a much more important purpose than merely to provide the wedding guests with something to drink. Third, the text never says that Jesus drank any of this wine. Considering the Bible’s very negative attitude toward drunkenness and Jesus’ dedication to God, it is inconceivable to us that Jesus ever drank alcohol recreationally or that He was ever drunk.

It is obvious that one can find instances in the Bible when people drank alcoholic beverages. While most of these examples are negative, some clearly are not. Nevertheless, when one examines the full counsel of Scripture regarding alcohol use, there is little doubt that it warns against its use and unequivocally condemns its abuse. Some Bible passages warn against drinking any alcoholic beverages because of their debilitating effects (Prov. 23:29-35). Others instruct against the use of alcohol by those in positions of authority (Prov. 31:4-5). They require sobriety of church leadership (1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Titus 1:6), and drunkenness is always condemned (Isa. 5:11, 22; 28:7). In fact, there appears to be a clear movement in Scripture toward a rejection of alcohol use. We pointed out earlier that the Old Testament had more positive references to alcohol use than the New Testament. This could be evidence that the Bible’s principles were gradually undermining the practice of alcohol consumption, much in the same way that biblical principles eventually undermined the practice of enslaving people.

With this said, the Bible does not condemn all uses of alcohol. It recognizes its medicinal value. Proverbs 31:6-7 instructs the king to “give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more.” The Apostle Paul perpetuated the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes. He instructed Timothy to “use a little wine” for his stomach ailments (1 Tim. 5:23). This apostolic advice to Timothy could well indicate that Timothy was a total abstainer and that Paul had to urge his reluctant son in the faith to consume wine with alcohol for health purposes.

In a time when medicines were very rare, alcohol was one of the few medicinal aids available to assist the human condition. Today we have many more effective means for dealing with various physical and mental afflictions, means that do not have the potential to cause the kinds of significant damage alcohol causes. These positive references to alcohol consumption for medical purposes tell us that the mere consumption of alcohol in itself is not a sin. If it were, then these passages would be instructing people to sin. What is clear in these passages, however, is that there is no hint that one can use alcohol for recreational/social purposes.

Of further interest is the way in which the actual beverage used in the Lord’s Supper is referred to in the New Testament. Paul speaks of “the cup” whenever he refers to the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Cor. 10:16, 21; 11:23-28). Even at the inauguration of this event, Jesus spoke of “the fruit of the vine” rather than using the term “wine” (see Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:17-20). Scholars are in general agreement that the phrase referred to wine, and we are not claiming that wine was not used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, but we think it is significant that there is no direct reference in Scripture to an alcoholic substance in connection with it.

Those who cannot find chapter and verse to justify consuming alcohol still argue that their freedom in Christ enables them to imbibe. It is certainly true that Christians are no longer under the condemnation of the Law. They no longer must follow rules and regulations in order to please God. But the freedom that Christians enjoy is not the same as license. The Christian must weigh his freedom against his responsibility in order to determine the appropriateness of certain behaviors. When considered from this perspective, it seems very clear that there are overwhelming reasons for abstaining from the consumption of beverage alcohol. Three principal reasons for this self-restraint are witness to the lost, service to the saved, and the appropriate treatment of the body.

As a matter of witness, it is preferable that a Christian not do anything that would hinder his witness to others. While some have argued that they find greater acceptance among a certain subset of the population because they drink with them, this is not the case for the vast majority of people who need to be reached with the Gospel. In fact, many lost people have certain expectations of Christians, and one is that they do not drink. Many of the lost recognize this as a distinguishing feature between Christians who are serious about their faith and those outside of the faith. Furthermore, victims of alcohol-related crimes could be deeply offended by someone who is supposedly concerned about people’s welfare engaging in an activity that has been so harmful to them.

This principle of witness is especially apt in today’s culture. Alcohol abuse is taking a staggering toll on millions of people and their families. It is inconceivable that one’s concept of Christian freedom could include the freedom to engage in any behavior that has become so devastating to millions of those in and outside of the church.

The Christian must also keep in mind how the example of his own lifestyle influences others. This can be understood as the servant principle. The Christian is a servant of all. He should consider how he best serves others by his behavior, not how he can live his own life without regard to others. The controlling principle here is that of the weaker brother. Paul counsels Christians to refrain from any activity, including eating and drinking, that may encourage another to engage in activity that will end up leading to feelings of guilt in the weaker brother (Rom. 14:13-23). He instructs Christians to pursue those things that edify others (1 Cor. 10:23; 14:26).

We disagree with those who say they can drink alcoholic beverages in the privacy of their own homes because they are not influencing anyone to follow their example. Parents, for example, must understand that their children will likely follow their example. It is a fact that the teenage children of parents who drink alcohol are more likely to experiment with alcohol than the teenage children of parents who abstain from alcohol consumption. It is just nearly impossible to engage in this activity unobserved by someone. We believe it would be tragic if someone were encouraged to engage in a behavior that destroyed their lives because of the example of someone they trusted.

In addition, the servant principle should lead those in leadership to abstain from alcohol use. In Proverbs 31:4-5 the king is counseled not to drink alcoholic beverages because it will cloud his judgment. It is also imperative that those responsible for leadership be available at all times for those in need. It would be a terrible disservice if a family had just experienced some tragic loss, and their pastor could not offer the spiritual counsel and support they needed because he had to sober up first.

The third principle applies to the appropriate treatment of the body. God created the human body. That in itself should be sufficient reason to abstain from alcohol use. But the Christian has another important reason for abstaining from alcohol. Paul taught that the Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It houses God Himself (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Consequently, whatever we do to our bodies affects directly the dwelling of God. Out of respect for God the Christian should do all he can to engage only in activity that honors and strengthens his body. His body and mind should be available to the indwelling Holy Spirit at any time and should be under the Spirit’s control, not that of alcohol (Eph. 5:18).

We understand that this argument can be made about many behaviors, overeating, for example. Of course, one cannot stop eating because someone might be encouraged to eat too much or to eat foods that are not healthy for them. People have to eat, but they don’t have to drink alcohol. Alcohol consumption is purely a lifestyle choice. It is not a necessary part of one’s life, like eating. Furthermore, the arguments made by some that they drink wine for their health is not supported by science. The health benefit comes from the grape, not the alcohol. All one must do to get this benefit is drink grape juice.

In conclusion, we offer five general principles that the Christian would do well to follow when he is making a decision about alcohol use or any other activity. First, Christians are not free to do anything they please. They belong to Christ and should make every effort to engage in behavior that honors His Lordship over their lives. Second, selfishness should be shunned. Selfishness is the root of all sin. It leads people to seek their own interests, even to the detriment of others. Third, sacrifice is a Christian virtue. Jesus provides the supreme example of this. He recognized the human need for forgiveness and willingly gave up His rightful place in heaven, took on human flesh, and sacrificed His life on the cross for the sake of others. Fourth, God’s glory is the most important concern for Christians. With every activity, the Christian should ask whether or not God will be glorified. Finally, the Christian must remember that he will be judged for his every deed, both those that affect his own life and those that affect the lives of others. Every Christian should live to hear his Lord declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” on the day of judgment.

Can Abstentionists and Moderationists Find Common Ground?


40% of all vehicle fatalities are alcohol related (MADD).

In Texas alone Alcohol-related accidents cost the taxpayers 10.3 BILLION dollars in 1999. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

The speed in which one drinks increases ones BAC. If just 10 ounces of wine is consumed over an extended period of an HOUR it will increase the average (200 lb) man’s BAC from .00 to .02. If it is 15 ounces it becomes .04. 20 ounces an hour = .06 (Michigan State University).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s study on impairment effects revealed that even at a BAC of .02 “the majority of participants were SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIRED…on important measures.” (National Highway Safety Administration). IN OTHER WORDS, JUST 10 OUNCES OF WINE CONSUMED IN AN HOUR WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIR ONE’S DRIVING!


In 1962 Thomas Kuhn wrote a book, which challenged the concept of absolutes (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). While he reached implications that were erroneous, he nevertheless provided a truth, which is enlightening for our present discussion.

Kuhn, revealed that many who were involved in scientific revolutions spoke past those who held different presuppositions. For example, many of those who believed the world to be flat COULD NOT hear the validity or evidence of it being round; because they knew it was flat.

It is the same conundrum we see in the evolution/creation debate. If one begins with the presupposition that supernatural events cannot occur, then Creation is impossible no matter how much scientific validation it has. It is only when one admits the possibility that creation COULD occur that he is able to search for scientific validity for or against it. Further, it is only when one admits creation could occur that legitimate conversation can take place between Creation scientists and Evolution scientists.

This lack of communication is also evident in the current discussion on alcohol. It centers on the word “oinos.” Until abstentionists admit it could mean intoxicating drink and until moderationists admit it could mean wine diluted with water we will forever be talking past each other. While I am willing to admit that it can mean intoxicating drink, I am UNwilling to admit it can ONLY mean intoxicating drink.

This seems to be the crux. For moderationists to insist that “oinos” can only mean intoxicating drink not only negates its other uses, but it negates its normal use. NT Scholar Robert Stein has shown unambiguously, oinos normally referred to a wine/water mixture. The purpose of such mixture was to purify the water. This mixture was used for survival purposes. They drank this mixture as their normal hydrating substance. It is similar to Sweet Tea in the Old South.

I enjoy working outside in my vegetable garden, but it is work! Usually after two hours in the summer heat I come in and quickly consume two to three large glasses of tea to rehydrate my body. Can you imagine coming in and quickly consuming two to three large glasses of warm wine for rehydration? Talk about a midday drunken stupor.

Inevitably, it will be argued that they drank water. But the water had to either be “living water” (flowing water from springs, which was limited) or purified. Otherwise, it could make one ill, similar to water in third world countries today. The easiest and most inexpensive way to purify water was with alcohol. This mixture was known as "oinos." If wine and strong drink were used to purify water as both Jewish and non-Jewish cultures testify then we must consider it a possibility.

When I go to India I am told, “don’t drink the water.” I do not, but I do brush my teeth with it. On one trip, a student got sick, apparently, from brushing his teeth with it. Some Indians can drink and not get sick; I can have minute amounts without getting sick; while the student could not even place it in his mouth without an effect. I shall assume that germs, genetics and immune systems have not changed significantly in the past 2,000 years and therefore the NT dead water had similar effects. Thus, there were some who were able to survive on the water in Palestine with no problem (John the Baptist), while others would get sick (Timothy).

While many Indians drink the dead water, those who can afford to purchase purified water, do so; this is good hygienic practice, which is testified by science. Should we not assume that biblical cultures understood and desired the same health benefits? Verily, this assumption is confirmed by Stein’s work in ancient cultures.

From my vantage point, it appears that moderationists seem to equate NT culture with 21st Century American Culture. Drawing a comparison between wine-drinking then and wine-drinking now. Thus, there seems to be an assumption that the ancients would drink their tap water for sustenance during the day, and then in the evening sit down with their wife for a relaxing glass of wine in their air-conditioned dining room. In reality, NT culture was much closer to many of our third world cultures, only you could not purchase purified water then, you had to purify it with wine or other strong drink.

Hermeneutics demands that we interpret a word with its common or normal use unless the context demands otherwise.

I concede there are times when the context demands “oinos” be interpreted as intoxicating drink (I Cor. 11), but the abuse of the Lord’s Supper does not imply that oinos must ALWAYS be interpreted as intoxicating drink. Since Justin Martyr makes clear that the oinos served at the Lord’s Supper in the early church was a water/wine mixture we can logically deduce that the Corinthians were getting into the wine before it was mixed. This would explain both the drunkenness as well as the fact they ran out of “oinos.”

I further concede it is possible that the wine at the Wedding at Cana COULD have been intoxicating because of the head-waiters comments. But I believe that this interpretation creates more problems than it solves. Not the least of which is the implication that some were already drunk and Jesus was contributing to their sin. This implication alone renders it unlikely that “oinos” should be understood as something different (intoxicating drink) from its normal use (wine/water mixture).

I am willing to open my mind and consider intoxicating drink a possibility…I am asking moderationists to do the same concerning water/wine mixture, otherwise legitimate discussion cannot take place.

If you think it is POSSIBLE, (not probable, just possible) for oinos to mean a wine/water mixture then read Robert Stein’s work “Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times?” If you are unable to access it, then google “John MacArthur Be not Drunk with Wine.” This is a three part series where he quotes Stein heavily.

Finally, if we both concede it is possible for the opposing side to be correct then we can further consider the consequences if our position is wrong.
If I am wrong, I doubt I will be rebuked for not drinking wine or rebuked for encouraging others to abstain. No reputable scholar has ever alleged the Bible’s condemnation of abstinence. But, my friend, if you are wrong, and the Bible does prohibit intoxicating drink for recreational purposes, then there will be an accounting, especially, if you teach others your error (James 3).

We certainly can praise Jesus that all of our sins are covered, but such a sacrifice is not to be taken lightly. Wisdom demands that if it is possible (as scholars attest) for something to be sin then avoid it. The question seems not to be whether it IS sin, but whether it is possible that it is.

Besides the biblical debate…no industry, with the possible exception of pornography, has broken more homes, brought about more abuse, caused more death, and led to more sin then the alcoholic industry. How in the world we can even contemplate supporting it with God’s resources is beyond me.

Daniel’s example of not defiling himself with the king’s wine is a solid example for all to follow.

Monday, July 24, 2006

SBC President Frank Page Addresses Alcohol Use


"I'm tired of hearing about temperance instead of abstinence, in order to please the cocktail crowd in church congregations." (Vance Havner).

“Of all vices, drinking is the most incompatible with Greatness.” (Sir Walter Scott).

“Resolved, that we reaffirm our historic stance of pointing out the deceptive and destructive nature of beveraged alcohol…” (SBC Resolution, 1976).


The Issue of Alcohol Use
By Frank S. Page, Ph.D.

The issue of alcohol consumption for social, recreational, and personal use (not medicinal use) is an issue, which has been debated for many years among evangelical believers. While virtually all evangelicals agree in biblical prohibitions against drunkenness, there is much debate among evangelicals and particularly among Southern Baptists as to the permissibility of using alcohol under a more controlled and/or moderate degree of usage. There is great debate as to accurate comparison of modern day strong drink with the strong drink mentioned in the Bible.

There is value in studying Scriptural references to alcohol use and/or abuse. One interesting study revolves around certain groups of persons who were to abstain from wine or strong drink. Such persons were Nazarites, Rechabites, Priests, and the Israelites during the wilderness experience. There are multitudes of instances where shameful drunkenness brought forth horrible consequences. The Apostle Paul gives certain guidelines about drinking for those who are being considered for church offices.

In addition to Scriptural references to the use of strong drink, one also must recognize the current state of our culture and how it has been impacted by alcohol use. Personally, I made a decision as a young child to never be involved with alcohol as I witnessed its absolute destructive force in the lives of several of my extended family members. One does not have to look hard to see the results of alcohol use and/or abuse in our society today. It is devastating millions of lives and families.

In addition to all of this, there is the issue of freedom in Christ. Many believe that Scriptures such as I Corinthians 6:2 point out the fact that the Christian is free to do anything not specifically prohibited by God, as long as it gives glory to God and does not disturb the Christian’s fellowship with God. Some believe that this gives the modern day believer the green light to utilize alcohol as a beverage.

Personally, I believe that alcohol, as a beverage, should be avoided by believers. I particularly believe that those who are in positions of leadership and ministry should refrain from any usage of alcohol as a beverage. The Scripture says in I Timothy 3:3 that an overseer must “not be given to drunkenness.” I believe that the issue goes even deeper. While indeed, we must not be given to drunkenness, I believe there is a Biblical principle that encourages believers to abstain all together from alcohol. In light of our societies self-destructive behavior, I believe that evangelical believers need to rise to a higher plain of conduct and teaching. I believe the overall need for this comes from the issue of witness and influence. For example, I Corinthians 8:9 says, “Be careful, however that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” We must be very careful that our witness is maintained in all settings. While the consumption of alcohol may not be a problem to some, there is the high probability that it would, in some way, hurt ones witness. There is also the issue of influence. I Corinthians 10:23-24 says, “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” The need is to be one of great, positive, and healthy influence as well as a strong and clear witness for Christ.

As a child, I realized the serious danger in alcohol use. Its addictive power is beyond debate. However, as a modern day, evangelical believer, I feel that it is very important to example and to teach abstinence regarding the use of alcohol.

PS - For those interested I have addressed ConcernedSBCer's latest three post's about me in the comment section of "Dr. Rogers, Dr. Criswell. Studies on Alcohol and More" post.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dr. Rogers; Dr. Criswell; Studies on Alcohol and More

“Study: Even one drink can be dangerous
SEATTLE, June 30 (UPI) -- A University of Washington study warns that even a single strong drink can make a person "blind drunk" and impair the drinker's driving abilities.
The study, appearing in Friday's issue of the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, found that those who were mildly intoxicated -- which is half the legal intoxication limit -- were heavily compromised in their ability to notice an unexpected visual object while being focused on another simple task.
It has been known that the so-called "inattentional blindness" phenomenon causes salient objects appearing in the visual field to go undetected. But the current study seeks to show these visual errors become even more likely under the influence of alcohol.
The research did not directly test driving aptitude but noted implications for driving could be serious.
"We rely on our ability to perceive a multitude of information when we drive (speed limit, road signs, other cars)," said Seema Clifasefi, the study's lead author. "If even a mild dose of alcohol compromises our ability to take in some of this information ... then it seems likely that our driving ability may also be compromised."
UPI - United Press International” (available:

“In Australia Dr. L. A. Cala and associates have for many years studied the effects of alcohol and the brain and its ability to function. To determine the point at which alcohol consumption begins brain damage, Cala examined heavy drinkers, using CAT scans, and found brain shrinkage already in progress. Using the same CAT scan procedure, she then examined a group of individuals considered to be moderate to light drinkers. Of thirty-nine drinkers tested, thirty were found to have some brain shrinkage, with frontal lobes bearing the first signs.
The reference to the frontal lobes is significant for it has been proved that decision making and moral value centers of the human character reside in the frontal lobes of the brain.
This confirms what Proverbs 31:4-5 had already told Bible believers, that alcoholic drinks (and as nothing is said of great quantities we may understand small amounts of alcohol) cause forgetfulness of the law and perverse judgments.” (Available:

“The Israelites thought they had a better idea. They rationalized by saying, "There's no reason to drive these Canaanites out. We can make them pay tribute to us. We can tax them and make slaves out of them. Rather than driving them out, we will domesticate them, and they will be good for us."
Many of us have done that. We have favored certain sins. There are vices that we actually think we can somehow tame and get benefit from. Some people view alcohol and gambling in this way.” (Adrian Rogers)

“Alcohol knocks the blood corpuscles out of business so that it takes eight to ten to do what one ought to do. There's a man who drinks. Here's a fellow who drives a beer wagon. Look how sissy he is. He's full of rotten tissue. He says he's healthy. Smell his breath. You punch your finger in that healthy flesh he talks about and the dent will be there a half an hour afterwards…. I've stood for more sneers and scoffs and insults and had my life threatened from one end of the land to the other by this God-forsaken gang of thugs and cutthroats because I have come out uncompromisingly against them.” (Billy Sunday).

“And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s wine which he drank and he said: Give me pulse to eat and water to drink.”…Young fella, the world and the devil persuade you that you have to do this. That’s a lie. And a vicious one. At the 8:15 o’clock service this morning, as I was closing, there came to me a man who belongs to this church, and said, “Pastor, I want to reconsecrate and recommit my life to the Lord God.”…Well, I said, “Why have you come?”…And he said, “I had given myself over to moderate drinking. I had just decided that it was all right to be a moderate drinker.” “But,” he said, “After listening to you this morning, I just want to recommit my life to the Lord. I will not do it.”…My brother, it will bless your family, it will bless your home, it will bless your children, it will bless your business, it will bless your life, if you will not drink.” (WA Criswell).

“Be it resolved, that we…call Southern Baptists to an exemplary Christian lifestyle of abstinence from beverage alcohol and all other harmful drugs.” (SBC resolution – 1984).

For those interested, Dr. James Merritt, past president of the SBC, has responded to Ben Cole’s Dallas Morning News article – you can find the response at

We will continue our research study Monday.

Friday, July 21, 2006



“Whereas, Drinking alcoholic beverages continues to be the number one drug problem in America, bringing misery to millions; and…Whereas, The American culture is thoroughly saturated with a take-a-drink mentality; and Whereas the use of the drug alcohol as a chemical crutch is harmful and unnecessary in light of the spiritual resources available to all people through Jesus Christ; be it resolved…that we call on our churches to teach vigorously the danger of the drug alcohol in order to create a climate which will lead people to reject the use of alcoholic beverages." (Resolution - SBC, 1975)

“My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health.” (General Robert E Lee)

“When will the terrific reign of alcohol cease?” (JL Dagg)


A vocal minority of bloggers is claiming that when our leaders speak to the important issue of alcohol they are driving a wedge between fellow conservatives. Yet, it is not our leaders who are using words like “man-made rules,” “conspiracy,” “legalist,” “political games,” and “ultra-Fundamentalist” to describe those who differ. It is this vocal minority.

When confronted with the meaning of legalism they break into a Texas Two-Step. In defending their accusation of political maneuvering (blackballing those who disagree), they become great believers in the “conspiracy theory,” (with as much evidence as those who claim Elvis is alive). When asked if the term “man-made rules” also applies to other barbiturates, and slavery, there is an awkward and eerie silence.

Ironically, a few moderationists claim the leaders want to suppress discussion on important issues, but when there comes a small contingency of abstentionists to discuss THIS issue on Blogs…well…that is just rude, unhealthy, and should cease. “Let us speak against the resolution and Blog about how wrong it is. But don’t respond to our comments through your Blogs,” seems to be the mantra of these few.

Some of them desire that we give the “Holy Spirit the freedom to convict us of our actions,” unless of course, those actions include blogging our position on abstinence. Then, apparently, we are not to listen, for that inner conviction came from the all-powerful leaders of the convention rather than the Holy Spirit.

In fact, that accusation of being a pawn to the powers of the convention has been laid at my feet. Further, I have been accused of trying to force man-made rules on others, of being a legalist, of causing division, and being closed-minded. Goodness. What has caused such outrageous assertions? Have I accused them of being liberal? No. Have I said they were anathema to me? No. Have I asked them to leave the convention? No. It appears the firestorm of accusations have come because I dared to speak for abstinence.

Now, to be fair, I think it is a small number of moderationists who are typing with such shrill fingers (and perhaps some abstentionists too). I have come to believe that one of the problems some of our leaders see in Blogs is: Blogs lack the human touch, and therefore some take a general statement (like I have made above) and personalize it. This has caused moderationists and abstentionists alike to claim they have never heard such unChristlike words and illogical reasoning. I have come to realize that many with whom I disagree are not demons; rather they are brothers in Christ. And their comments may not be hateful language at all. In fact, they may find it difficult to express their thoughts, or they may be having a bad day, or I may be reading in something that was not intended. May we all be better at giving others the benefit of the doubt.

On the matter of abstention, some legitimately believe the Bible is not clear, others believe it is quite clear. I am convinced that the principles in Scripture reveal that the use of mind-altering drugs (including alcohol), slavery, suicide, and cloning are all wrong (although they are not condemned). Why is it so wrong for me to state and defend that? Where was this outcry of man-made rules when the SBC passed a resolution asking forgiveness for our past support of the sin of slavery, or when we decried the use of other mind-altering drugs, or stated our opposition to cloning?

Further, we never heard this outcry against abstention until this year (and that by a 10% minority). It is not the abstentionists creating this stir! We stand where SB have always stood.

Why is this minority not denouncing D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and George Whitefield (not to mention Adrian Rogers and W.A. Criswell) for holding to man-made rules by preaching abstention? (It is interesting that God used many of these men and their preaching to bring Awakenings to His children.)

Finally, there is a belief by some that the Biblical position of abstinence causes me to look down my nose at those who do not affirm it. How LUDICROUS. Has not Christ said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” I preach on gluttony, but that does not mean I feel I am superior to those who have weight troubles because of it. In fact, if we were to cast stones, please direct them here…for I am chief of sinners and know it. Were my private sins to be named, the false accusations that have been made would pale in comparison. I certainly fail daily to achieve holiness as Christ is holy, but that does not remove my responsibility from saying “Here is what Scripture teaches.”

My intent has never been to try and divide brethren (God forbid), or to convince those, who will not be convinced of the Bible’s position on abstinence. Rather, my intent is to stand on what I believe the Bible teaches about mind-altering drugs, and to provide those who are questioning the Biblical position on alcohol with an alternate voice to the sheer volume of moderation voices in the Blog world.

It is most interesting, that some moderationists are asking me to silence my voice simply because I show where SB have always stood on this issue, I dare to research how our current leadership stands, I post medical studies, and I give and defend my position. Most Interesting Indeed.


Monday, we will have our next article in our study, posted:)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Third Seminary President Shares His Views


“Galen C. Bosley, D.H.Sc., has studied numerous medical reports published in journals in different countries showing that even moderate drinking of alcohol actually destroys brain cells which are never replaced. It is hard to see how anyone can contemplate the destruction of a part of his body with equanimity. When the part of the body first to be destroyed are cells in the brain controlling moral discernment the complacency of mankind about this wholesale destruction of human capacity is astounding.” (Reynolds, S - Available at

“That we record afresh our deep and unalterable opposition to the liquor traffic in all of its forms and phases; that we urge upon our people the rule of total abstinence in their personal habits as the only sane, sensible and right course for Christian people concerning any recognized evil” (SBC Resolution, 1939).


Alcohol Consumption: What Would Jesus Do?
By: R. Philip Roberts

But Jesus drank wine, didn’t he? And, after all, he miraculously reproduced wine at the marriage feast in Cana (cf. Gospel of John, Chapter 2). These two points in and of themselves should suffice for anyone arguing on behalf of moderate alcohol consumption in the 21st-century evangelical context. Or do they?

They are common arguments which, taken at a superficial glance, would seem very convincing. When looked at in the first-century context, however, the resulting opinion about alcohol consumption is quite different. In order to answer the issue of “What would Jesus do?”, we need first to ask the hermeneutically relevant question of “What did Jesus do?” For an answer, I turn to an important, but now little read, resource that more Baptists ought to know about. It’s an article written by now-retired Southern Baptist Theological Seminary New Testament professor Robert H. Stein entitled, “Wine – Drinking in New Testament Times,” published over thirty years ago by Christianity Today , Volume 19 (1975), pp. 923-5. It was referred to in Dan Akin’s Baptist Press commentary of June 30, 2006. In Stein’s article, he adroitly and succinctly reviews the historical evidence for alcohol consumption in the New Testament era. He answers the questions of “Was alcohol consumed in the New Testament Period?” and “Was it similar to alcohol consumption in the modern context?” with a yes–no response.

Yes, alcohol was consumed and no, it was not synonymous with modern day consumption in the form of table wines, cocktails, mixed drinks or even beer.

In essence, the alcohol consumed in the first century was so diluted and moderated that in Stein’s words “one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before it affected the mind.” Surprisingly, even in strictly pagan contexts, alcohol was always diluted except in the most raucous and debauched of circumstances. Why? Because the ancients understood the potency of and the problem with alcohol when drunk without careful precautions. It would cause drunkenness often without warning. And drunkenness was a condition viewed by the ancients as undignified. Inebriation was a condition only barbarians tolerated and undiluted alcohol a drink only they would imbibe.

At a very minimum, wine was served by the general public, including the Romans themselves, at a one-to-one ratio, one part wine with one part water. In this mixture it was referred to as “strong wine.” This differentiation is why the writers of the Old Testament make a clear distinction between “strong drink” and “wine.” (Lv. 10:8,9; Nm. 6:3; Dt. 14:26; 29:6; Jdg 13:4,7,14, etc…) See Paige Patterson’s Baptist Press article of July 7, 2006, for further clarification on this matter. Wine mixed with more water in the ratio was “wine.” In Jewish practice and custom, it generally was mixed three parts of water with one of wine. This beverage was still referred to as wine or “oinos.” Even then, Nazarites, Aaron and his sons and others were directed not to drink this form of strongly diluted wine.

In his article, Stein notes that II Maccabees 15:39 comments, “It is harmful to drink wine alone, or again to drink water alone…” Obviously in the time of Jesus and later, the alcohol mixed with water served as a means to purify water, as boiling water in the time of Jesus was a tedious and expensive procedure. Post New Testament, a number of early church witnesses confirm the mixing of water and wine for generic use, as well as consumption at the Lord’s Supper. (see Justin Martyr Apology I, 67, 5; Hippolytus Apostolic Tradition XXIII, 1; Cyprian Epistle LXII, 2, 11 and 13.)

So, what would Jesus do when it comes to contemporary alcoholic beverage consumption? Probably he would do what he did. And that is to utilize only beverages that have absolutely zero chance of causing inebriation. In our modern context, in my opinion, where healthy non-alcoholic drinks and water are readily available, it would be very probable that Jesus would be a total abstainer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dr. Jerry Vines' Article on Abstinence

“We declare afresh our unalterable opposition to the whole liquor traffic, whisky, beer, and wine, and to the license system by which this most blighting and corrupting traffic fastened upon our body social and body politic. We stand unalterable for total abstinence on the part of the individual and for prohibition by the government, local, State, and National, and that we declare relentless war upon the liquor traffic, both legal and illegal, until it shall be banished.” (from SBC Resolution, 1938).

O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil. (William Shakespeare).



Messengers at this year’s SBC meeting got quite a wakeup call. I refer to the lengthy discussion of the resolution on alcohol. Now, resolutions with reference to the manufacture, sale and use of alcohol at the SBC meeting aren’t unusual. But, this year, there were several who raised objections to the total abstinence position taken. Although the resolution and the amendment passed overwhelmingly, many messengers were shocked that there would be any opposition or discussion at all. I was not shocked. For some time now I have been aware that there is a small group among us advocating moderation in the use of alcohol rather than total abstinence.

I was not shocked. I was saddened. It is an indication that the line of separation between believers and the lost world is being gradually erased. I was saddened. I was not surprised. We have seen it coming for sometime now. Large numbers of our churches and our pastors seem to have forgotten or have ignored the Bible’s teaching concerning separation. The Bible is very clear that believers are to live lives of separation. Of course, there is a positive aspect to Bible separation. Paul testified he was “separated unto the gospel of God”(Romans 1:1). Bible separation begins with our absolute commitment to Jesus and His Word. It’s first, who you turn to, not what you turn from. But, there is also a negative side of separation. II Corinthians states it clearly, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing..”(II Corinthians 6:17). Love creates the desire for separation. If I truly love my wife, I separate myself from all others.

The neglect of this clear Bible truth has caused rampant worldliness in our churches, and sadly, even in the lives of too many of our leaders. We seldom hear anything in church about what Christians should not do. I know the danger of extremes. Legalism is certainly to be avoided. But, I don’t find many of our Baptist people in danger of that! And we must also avoid isolation. We are not to be isolated from the world; we are to be insulated from it; and we are to infiltrate it with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, I wonder, is anything considered worldly anymore? I John 2:15-17 is still in the Bible.

So what does this have to do with the use of alcohol? The case against the use (not just the abuse) of alcohol is easy to build. Physically, socially, domestically, influentially, and yes, biblically, total abstinence is the only way to go for a Christian who takes Bible separation seriously. As the old saying goes, “alcohol has many defenders, but no defense." In coming weeks I plan to set forth the Bible’s position on the use (not just the abuse) of alcohol. To think that there are now pastors of churches, leaders of youth groups and members of boards of SBC entities who are promoting moderation rather than total abstinence shows just how far down the road to apostasy we have traveled. When I was a student at New Orleans Baptist theological Seminary I preached and witnessed every week in the French Quarter. I heard just about all the standard arguments for moderation from the winos. To hear the same arguments used today by those who are spiritual leaders really saddens me.

I think it would be a good time to call a meeting. Let those among us who are advocating moderation in the use of alcohol gather and issue a call to repentance. To repent of worldliness, in sins of the spirit as well as sins of the flesh. To repent of the sin of encouraging a position on the use of alcohol that will lead thousands to addiction and destruction. And issue a call to return to Bible separation. To see, not how close to the cliff of worldliness they can ride, but how far from it they can stay.

Jerry Vines

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Alcohol Abstinence: Bias or Biblical?


“Ethyl alcohol or ethanol, known commonly as alcohol, is the same whether the beverage is wine, beer, or hard liquor. Beverage alcohol is a drug that depresses the central nervous system, like barbiturates, sedatives, and anesthetics….Alcohol has no nutritional value….The brain, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and every other organ and tissue system are infiltrated by alcohol within minutes after it passes into the blood stream…. Drugs such as marijuana and cocaine which are used, like alcohol, for "recreational" purposes have different, but similarly harmful, physical effects.” (Dunlap, 2001) available at

“That we urge upon our pastors, churches, our schools and colleges, our Sunday School Board and all other teaching and educational agencies connected with our denominational life, that they be constant and diligent in setting forth the facts as to the evil effects of alcohol in all forms and urging upon our people the necessity for total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks as the wise and proper course for the individual.” (from SBC resolution, 1935)


The course of my current understanding of the Bible and alcohol looks more like a roller coaster than a NASCAR event. It has not been a simple continuous growth in abstinence. In fact, ten years ago, after I graduated from Southeastern Seminary, I believed the Bible condemned drunkenness but not moderation. However, I felt we should practice abstinence because of our witness.

Over the last three years my view has undergone revision. I have come to believe the Bible teaches abstinence from today’s alcoholic beverages. I will defend this position and then explain why the moderation position is Biblically lacking. I do admit a bias. I have personally seen the pain of alcohol in the life of my wife. When we were engaged, she lost her father to cirrhosis of the liver. He was 42. I’m not sure anything hurts more, than seeing those you love, hurt. However, it was the questions of the students I taught at Southeastern College, which provided the impetus for my renewed interest in this.

The Case for Abstinence:

1. Wine in the New Testament was Normally Diluted.
New Testament Scholar Robert Stein has demonstrated unequivocally that the normal use for the NT word for wine (oinos) was fermented grape juice mixed with water. The purpose of this mixture was two-fold: 1) to purify the water; and 2) to extend the harvest.
Yet, like today’s society, there were numerous individuals who enjoyed the buzz and drunken state produced from hard liquor. It would have been easy for them to get to the wine that had yet to be mixed for daily consumption. This would explain the prohibitions of drunkenness while maintaining the integrity of the meaning of “oinos."
The Moderation insistence that "oinos" must ALWAYS mean "intoxicating drink" when translated is convenient but neglects its normal use. Hermenuetics demand that we interpret a word according to its normal use unless the text demands otherwise. If the text makes clear that the normal use would not make sense then we look for its secondary use.

2. The Bible Looks Negatively on Strong Drink (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 31:4-5; Isa. 28:7; Hab. 2:15-16).

3. The Alcoholic Content of Alcoholic Beverages Today is Closer to Strong Drink than to Oinos.

4. The Example that the Pastor is to Set for the Flock is Abstinence.
The Bible holds the pastor to the standard of abstinence (1 Timothy 3:3). Further, the standards given to pastors are given, in part, for the purpose of upholding an example of God’s perfect will.
Abstinence, in that day, was an extremely high standard, for it usually required partaking of “dead water” which, was at times unhealthy (perhaps the ailment from which Timothy suffered). To make this a requirement for pastor’s, especially in that day, is telling.

5. Even if it is a Grey-Area, Wisdom Warrants Abstinence.
Even if one were to assume this a grey-area, Feinberg’s guidelines for questionable activities are helpful: 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).

The Case Against Moderation:

1. The Assumption that “If Scripture Does Not Condemn Something Then it Condones it,” is Erroneous.
There appears to be an assumption among moderationists that if it is not condemned in Scripture then it is condoned. This erroneous hermeneutic allows for the practice of cloning, drug use, suicide, slavery, cursing, obscene gestures, revealing dress, and even abortion. For none of these is condemned in Scripture. Inevitably the moderationist will cry, “but there are principles gained from Scripture which condemns them” – Exactly!

2. The Conflating of Oinos for Medicinal and Survival Purposes with Strong Drink for Enjoyment Purposes is Overlooked.

3. The Biblical Call to Stay Far Away from Sin is Neglected.
Innate in the moderation position is the implication that we are free to get as close to sin (drunkenness) as possible, without sinning. It appears to me that such logic is in opposition to God’s command to be Holy. In other words the NT implies “get as close to God and as far from sin as possible.”

4. The Implication that Jesus Contributed to the Sin of Others is Ignored.
Inherent in the moderation position is the idea that Jesus contributed to sin. They claim that drunkenness is sin. Further they postulate that people got drunk at weddings. Thus, the host would serve the best alcohol first and the worst last (after the guest were inebriated and could not tell the difference). If this is the case, then Jesus knowingly contributed to drunkenness. (By the way, when I have company, I always serve the best first – that does not make it intoxicating).

5. The Principles of Hermeneutics are Abused.
Moderationists misuse texts like Deuteronomy 14:26, as proof texts for their position. They take a phrase or two located in the larger context of tithing and develop a fermentology. And yet, these same individuals seem to treat Proverbs 23:29-34 (Where the context IS alcohol) as void of application. Hermeneutical principles require us to take clear texts on a subject as authoritative to unclear texts, and to interpret the unclear texts through the filter of clear texts. Dr. Stephen Reynolds has done this in his article “The Biblical Approach to Alcohol” available at

6. The Assumption that Drinking Makes us Acceptable to the World is Appalling.
The idea that the world will accept us and listen to the gospel if we drink with them verges on apostasy. One blogger implied a lady was saved as a result of his affirmation of wine. Such theological naiveté assumes that alcoholic spirits move the Holy Spirit…how sacrilegious!

7. The Treating of Alcohol as Different from Other Barbiturates is Inconsistent.
Other than drunkenness what biblical reason does a moderationist have for prohibiting any drug? Alcohol is a mind-altering drug like other barbiturates. And if drunkenness is the ONLY Biblical prohibition for barbiturates then to hold alcohol to a different application then the others is duplicitous. In other words, a consistent moderationist should not be opposed to the legalization of marijuana, cocaine, and/or other drugs. Further, he must affirm one may partake of these vices provided one does not get drunk. Finally, he must honestly answer the question: what would be biblically wrong with legalizing underage drinking/drug use?

8. The Toll that Alcohol Exacts on the Body is Dismissed.
The effect of alcohol on the mind is apparently neglected by moderationists. They claim that the abuse of alcohol is wrong because of its effects? But at what point is abuse reached? Is it at .08 BAC or .10 or .06? This subjectivity begs the question: Could alcohol effect the body before drunkenness? The assumption that alcohol does NOT affect the brain until one abuses it, is contrary to both science and logic. Galen Bosely has shown that even moderate drinking destroys brain cells that will never be replaced and Dr. L. A. Cala revealed that even light drinkers have brain shrinkage in their frontal lobes (the area of decision-making). At what point does purposeful destruction of our bodies become sin?

9. The Apparent Contrast Between Drinking and the Self-Controlled Spirit-Filled Life is Disregarded.
It is compelling that the Greek word for sober (self-control) in numerous passages (1 Thess 5:6; 1 Thess 5:8; 1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Tim. 3:11; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8) is a word that also means, “holding no wine” (Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament). Interesting!
Further Paul contrasts wine that leads to drunkenness with the Spirit that leads to fullness. The Bible says, “be not drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit.” The words “drunk” and “filled” are contrasted, as are the words “wine” and “Spirit”. To say the least, this is thought-provoking. Paul seems to be implying that instead of turning to wine for enjoyment, turn to the Holy Spirit.

10. There is an apparent neglect of Daniel 1; where Daniel says he would not DEFILE himself with the King's wine but asked for water instead.

I cannot say taking a drink is ALWAYS a sin, but I can say abstinence is certainly not sin. Bottom line – Scripture looks negatively on strong drink. NT oinos was not strong drink. Today’s alcohol is.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Alcohol Study Methodology

QUOTES AND MORE: This section will be dedicated in the following Posts to quotes, statistics and former Resolutions.

“Alcohol is classified as a depressant drug, because it will depress the body and the mind…unlike foods, alcohol does not have to be slowly digested. It is immediately absorbed into the blood…(which) rapidly carries it to the brain….Alcohol affects all parts of the brain which also affects the heart rate, coordination, speech, and destruction of brain cells.” (National Education Foundation of America, available at

“Resolved, that we, the members of the Southern Baptist Convention, reassert our truceless and uncompromising hostility to the manufacture, sale, importation and transportation, of alcoholic beverages in any and all their forms….Nor do we believe that any church should retain in its fellowship any member who drinks intoxicating liquors as a beverage, or visits saloons or drinking places for the purpose of such indulgence.” (SBC Resolution, May 1896).


Because, the methodology of the study is so long…I chose to post it today. I will post my perspective tomorrow, since it is important in qualitative research for the researcher to admit his bias upfront.

This study will examine the biblical, cultural and philosophical issues surrounding the partaking of alcohol in moderation. One question drove this study:

1. What is the current view of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention concerning the question of moderation in alcohol?

Content analysis will be the methodology used to answer this question. Historically, content analysis has been used primarily with quantity; in this study, however, it is used in a qualitative manner. In other words, this study is not as concerned with frequency as it is meaning. Therefore, this is a qualitative study that utilizes content analysis to answer the question which drives it. A description of the use of content analysis will be followed by a description of qualitative research.

Content analysis involves collecting, comparing, and categorizing data for communication. The application of content analysis for the question driving this study will include the following steps: (A) collection of data; (B) determination of the coding unit; (C) consideration of emergent categories; (D) analysis of data; (E) considering issues of reliability; and (F) insuring ethical safeguards and considerations. These steps are described.

A. Collection of Data
In researching data for this study the researcher contacted the heads of the SBC agencies, the current President and two past Presidents. The two past Presidents were selected because of their influence in the conservative resurgence from its inception, their continued influence and the researchers convenient sampling (the researcher knows these men). Those contacted were Dr. Danny Akin, Dr. Morris Chapman, Dr. Roy Fish, Dr. Jeff Iorg, Dr. Charles Kelley, Dr. Richard Land, Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Frank Page, Dr. Paige Patterson, Dr. Thom Rainer, Dr. Jerry Rankin, Dr. Phil Roberts, Dr. Bailey Smith, and Dr. Jerry Vines.

Each individual was asked to respond to “the morality of consuming alcohol from a biblical perspective” as well as other thoughts they may have about the resolution. They were given no constraints concerning the length or content of their response.

To date the researcher has received communication revealing at least 50% will participate. The researcher fully expects to hear that even more will participate. This is an extremely high percentage in a study requesting articles with no stipend given (it is not unusual to have 10% or less participation). The researcher assumes the participants feel this is an important issue to address. The articles will be read and posted respectively.

B. Determination of a Coding Unit
One of the most important decisions to be made in content analysis is what unit of text will be studied. The most common options are word, word sense, sentence, paragraph, theme and whole text.
Words are single symbols used in writing with distinguishable physical boundaries. Word sense distinguishes between multiple meanings of words. A sentence is a combination of words, which is complete; expressing a thought. Paragraphs are short records that can be difficult to assign into single categories, but are used to develop a particular aspect of the main subject. Themes are subjects that can be used successfully to describe an idea. Whole text is text that is larger than paragraphs and difficult to define (Weber, 1990).
The coding unit that is most appropriate for this study is the theme. In researching the data the themes abstinence, moderation, effects, strong drink/wine, wisdom, morality/holiness, and witness will be utilized.

C. Emergent Themes
New themes may emerge as the study progresses.

D. Data Analysis
Articles will be read and re-read searching for the themes of abstinence, moderation, effects, strong drink/wine, wisdom, morality/holiness, and witness. Material deemed relevant to these themes will be classified respectively. The researcher will review all material relevant to a theme and note similarities and differences. This will be done for each theme. Once similarities and differences are noted the researcher will synthesize the material for each theme into a framework which will provide the reader with general information as to what the leaders of the southern Baptist Convention believe about the moderation/abstinence debate.

E. Considering Issues of Reliability
Stability (which checks for accuracy within the coder over time) will be checked by having the researcher re-code one of the articles. Reproducibility (which refers to the extent that more than one coder arrives at the same results) will be checked by having a second coder code an article.

F. Ethical safeguards and Considerations
Content analysis is relatively unobtrusive since it involves text and not human subjects. Therefore, the question that this study seeks to answer is free from ethical compromise.

The main objective of qualitative research is understanding, rather than the ability to generalize or the identification of causes and effects (Creswell, 1998). The analysis of qualitative data discovered through research is intended to build understanding inductively, from the data, rather than deductively, from a priori hypotheses or categories (Gay and Airasian, 2000). Thus an understanding of the position of the current leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention on the issue of abstinence from alcohol will arise from the data.

Qualitative research is certainly value-laden, however, the researcher will try to stay as objective as possible.

Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage Publications.

Gay, L. R. & Airasian, P. (2000). Educational Research. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis (2nd ed.) Newbury Park, Ca: Sage.