Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Third Seminary President Shares His Views

QUOTES AND MORE:

“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 http://www.alcoholandthebible.org/biblical_approach.htm)

“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).

A THIRD SEMINARY PRESIDENT ADDRESSES MODERATION

Alcohol Consumption: What Would Jesus Do?
By: R. Philip Roberts
7/20/2006

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.

60 comments:

sbc pastor said...

Dr. Roberts' article is both scholarly and thoroughly Biblical. We are blessed to have him leading MBTS. His comment in regards to the claims of moderationists points to the superficiality of their hermeneutic:

"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."

Thanks Dr. Roberts and God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

You are to be commended for assembling the voices of our convention to weigh in on this issue.

What's more, given Dr. Roberts post, surely little criticism can be marshalled that he waxed hot from his bully pulpit.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

p.s. If you get a chance, Dr. Reynolds, peek at my latest little attempt to contribute to this issue. I encourage your feedback to strengthen the moral syllogism I formulated

www.sbctomorrow.com

brad reynolds said...

JLG
Dr. Roberts did an excellent job also.

I really enjoyed the early church documentation that they mixed "oinos" with water.

Great evidence of what the church did, at a time when they couldn't get "juice" year round!!!
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Peter,
You couldn't be more correct. While my position will obviously differ from Dr. Roberts, the article was succinct, objective, and appropriately offered. His article contained no disparaging rhetoric about the moderationists - just an objective presentation of his position. Would that all (both sides) took this approach.

Grace and peace to all,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

Peter,

Your moral syllogism is excellent.

And your article is very well written. As always you are an example of Christ-like Spirit and Wisdom.

Let me encourage our moderation brethren to read it and if they dare, respond. www.sbctomorrow.com

However, don't hold your breath for the them to take up the dilemma your syllogism proposes. There is an eerie silence on that issue.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Peter
One other note...your encouragement about presuppositions is wise.

Many moderationists have decried the way some abstentionist have exegeted Scripture and yet when one comes along and ruinously implies that both Prov. 20:1 and Prov. 31:4-5 are speaking of drunkenness and not drinking their presuppositions allow them to blindly follow such absence of exegesis.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
See - there you go again too - making sweeping generalizations about someone else's motives. Verily, that is not called for. How do you know that, "their presuppositions allow them to blindly follow such absence of exegesis." Come now, can't we stick to responding to posts and not persons?

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
You are right. I assumed. Perhaps it is not their presuppositions that blind them, it could be something worse:)
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I expect a defensive posture from some on this blog, but honestly, I expect more from you.

dissappointed,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
My brother, take it a little more lightly:)

Notice the :)

There is no doubt in my mind Mod's are blinded, I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think it is their presuppositions. I was being kind. And yet I was accused of assuming, which I was, but I was assuming the best, and thus responded that you are right it could be something else.

If it is not their presuppositions (ie - wine then is like wine today, and God would not look negatively on wine) then they are purposely neglecting the truth of oinos and strong drink.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I know there are several who hold a moderationist position who would decry your exegesis as "blinded" or "purposely neglecting the truth of Scripture", but I don't think that's a positive way to deal with the issue. I think a better way to deal with it is to present why you believe the Scripture supports your position - which you've done a fine job of - and allow the moderationists to present why they believe the Scripture supports their position - which they've done a fine job of - and then allow the reader to be led by the Holy Spirit and by God to decide which position is most Biblical. I honestly don't think it's necessary to put down the scholarly study of those opposed to your position as either blinded or purposefully negligent.
As a side note, I think the greatest hindrance on these blogs is the inability to transmit emotion. Sometimes when we intend to be light-hearted, it still comes off as terse. You know that I hold no ill will dear brother.

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
Of course my brother...we are agreed on the limits of fingers expressing our thoughts. And for that I am misunderstood many times...as are we all.

Nevertheless, I do choose to believe many Moderationists are blinded by presuppositions, not open rebellion, and I stated what I believe.

The comment of their being blind, while sincerely believed by me was nevertheless a light-hearted comment similar to ones you have entertained this past week here. However, while I was speaking to Peter about my sincere beliefs, I did forget the :). For that I apologize and was wrong.

There are times when I may be too open and should just hide my beliefs...but if I am right on this issue, then I have to believe that honest Mod's are blinded by something.

BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Again, I honestly don't think it's necessary to put down the scholarly study of those opposed to your position as either blinded or purposefully negligent. Obviously you disagree with me on that regard. I'm disappointed.

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
I'm really at a loss of words on how to respond concerning the disappointment of my transparency.

But I can live with it, if you can, my brother:)
BR

IN HIS NAME said...

posttinebraelux,

I know you are new to Blogging and if you will take time to visit the Blog's that Dr. Brad Reynolds and Jeremy Green (sbc pastor) have commented on and this will tell the story as well as their own Blogs. JESUS gave us the GREAT COMMISSION to go BAPTIZE and MAKE DISCIPLES. Can your imagine the impact we would have on the world if we went calling them sinner and winos (an offensive term for somebody who is addicted to alcohol, especially wine, and is usually homeless (informal insult)).

A Brother in CHRIST

brad reynolds said...

In His name
I personally think we would have a great impact telling the world they are sinners and in need of saving grace...but that's just me:)

Further, if you are going to make implications about statements I have made, please post them in their context or don't make implications. I am very capable of erring and I am first on the list of sinners. Thus, if I have erred I will gladly repent and remove them.
BR

brad reynolds said...

To All
SBCWitness has posted a response by Dr. James Merritt to Ben Cole's Dallas Morning News article. You can find it at sbcwitness.com
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Allow me an example of what I'm talking about. I think it perfectly fine to refute someone elses argument/interpretation/etc. with objective, Biblical evidence for the refutation - and then let the chips fall where they may. As opposed to accusing them of being blind or purposefully negligent - which doesn't serve to 'clear up' the issue. Am I making sense at all?

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
You make sense...and I apologize for any confusion I have brought.

BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Forgiven before you asked. :)

PTL

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Thank you for the feedback and plug! for my piece. As I think thru this entire issue--which honestly, for me, I have not given a knat's breathe of thought for so long now, perhaps because I naively thought it was really not an issue--I am beginning to, relatively speaking, see a little clearer why some end up on Mars and others Pluto.

Time will tell if I possess any semblance of accuracy. At any rate, I feel a soft spot for most of us today is not the Biblical proof-textin approach. So many of us choose our bullets well, but fail to consider our adversaries have loaded their guns with ammunition we know not of (readers: please do not read into adversaries; it's just a literary image :D

Rather, I feel we are much too weak in moral reasoning, myself included. Thus, I hope part of my own contribution to the discussion can be a moral argumentation--biblically driven, of course--focusing on broad forrest views and consequences of moral propositions.

I have some other moral syllogisms I am presently thinking about that may potentially be more problmatic still for moderation defenders. I want, however, to cook them a while longer, maybe even throwing them to some professional ethicists and/or theologians for consumption before serving them to cyberspace.

Have a great afternoon, Dr. Reynolds. Try to stay out of trouble. I feel now what you, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Akin and I'm quite sure, Drs Vines and Roberts will soon feel from an old friend over on another website.

What is so humorous to me, is, while I can fully understand how going after the "Big Influencers" and their views on abstinence in our beloved SBC can be a prize of sorts, I find it absolutely amazing that so much effort is being spent to expose the "errors" of someone such as myself, whom no one at all knows. I guess I should be humbled. Pray for me that I won't be so prideful being in the company of such men.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

brad reynolds said...

Peter
Your true humility is convicting.

Thank you
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad & Peter,
Someone had posed a question on Peter's blog that I haven't seen addressed yet - and must admit my relative ignorance on the subject. Can you guys think of any of the early church organizations or leaders (19th century rhetoric aside) that promoted the inclusion of alcohol consumption in the sin category?

Honestly curious,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
At least do me the kindness of reading my comments to your questions. I quote from the comments to you on my other posts.

"PTL
Here we go again, with the old..."nobody said anything until Billy Sunday," argument.

As the Moderationist's have always argued, it doesn't matter what church leaders have said, what matters is what the Bible says. Nevertheless, let’s pursue this rabbit:)

To search for a tradition of abstinence within the Catholic Church (the church before the reformation) one would be searching in vain (although they had much more serious errors and still do).

During the Reformation as well as before 300 AD those who affirmed the truth of Scripture were largely running for their lives either from the Catholic church or the Roman/Secular Government, respectively. They did not have time to develop a doctrine of wine. Nevertheless, documents reveal the anabaptist (our fore-fathers) were known for the abstinence of strong drink, even there own Schleitheim Confession (written as they hid for their lives) states:

“From this we should learn that everything which is not united with our God and Christ cannot be other than an abomination which we should shun and flee from…drinking houses, civic affairs, the oaths sworn in unbelief and other things of that kind, which are highly regarded by the world and yet are carried on in flat contradiction to the command of God, in accordance with all the unrighteousness which is in the world. From all these things we shall be separated and have no part with them for they are nothing but an abomination, and they are the cause of our being hated before our Christ Jesus, Who has set us free from the slavery of the flesh and fitted us for the service of God through the Spirit Whom He has given us.”

In fact, it was assumed in many cases that if you did not curse, drink, or run with those who did then you were an Anabaptist.

Now lest we forget, even as late as 1527 they did not have Mountain Dew:) They had water, juice, milk and wine. They still had to purify their water.

To assume they partook of alcoholic beverages similar to today is unwarranted by both their documents and the fact wine was still used for survival purposes!

Furthermore, Dr. Roberts article reveals that early church documents make clear that they drank wine mixed with water at the Lord’s Supper (Justin Martyr, et al).

Thus when wondering why the church was silent for so many years, let us review:

AD34- ca AD 314 – church Running for their lives and wine used for survival
ca AD 315- ca AD 1530 – Catholic Church/State and wine used for survival
ca AD 1530 – ca AD late 18th Century – persecution and wine used for survival.
Late 18th Century until today – Wine not needed for survival and used for entertainment. Awakenings brought about by preachers who preached on abstinence.

Hope this helps
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
For the life of me, I don't remember that comment. At any rate, I was not being argumentative, I was truly curious. I had never thought along those lines before. The information you've provided, however, is gratefully appreciated. I'm not sure any of it points to anyone or any group before the 19th century taking that position, but it is informative nonetheless. Instead of wasting more of your time, however, (as it appears that I have) I think this weekend's assignment for myself will be to research the "breakaway" of the anabaptists from the reformers to see what I can glean from that period in history. Until we meet in the morrow, I bid you adieu.

Grace and peace,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

Willaim Estep is an anabaptist scholar...check out his book.

Michael Sattler is a hero of mine
BR

Nathan Finn said...

Brad,
Did you see that we have posted James Merritt's thoughts on this issue over at www.sbcwitness.com? He makes some great points.
Nathan

brad reynolds said...

Nathan
I did see it. I have encouraged others to check it out, earlier in my comments today.

Great article by Dr. Merritt.

I also appreciate what you are doing at SBCWitness. It is very professional in every aspect. The articles, the tone, and the maintenance.

I wish I was more technologicall savvy:)
BR

sbc pastor said...

I concur with Dr. Reynolds. Thus far, SBCWitness has been the epitome of professionalism and has already made a significant contribution to convention life and theological discourse within the SBC. **** = 4 stars :) and keep up the good work. God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

Mopheos said...

Brad,

I posted this on Peter's blog in a brief answer to his challenge given in the syllogism:

"With regard to the syllogism, you have one insuperable phrase in the first premise which renders the syllogism invalid (in my lowly opinion), and that phrase is "Biblically speaking." Premise two does not follow premise one for the simple reason that "biblically speaking" we have no warrant for premise two. We do have biblical warrant for premise one. And I suspect that similar syllogisms could be pressed to absurd conclusions on a variety of topics which the Bible addresses, proving too much in the end. We might easily end up "finding" a warrant for abortion, for instance."

God has spoken much about wine, drunkenness and drink in the Old and New Testaments, so we are not left (for the most part) to guess about His intentions with regard to wine. You can state that the door is wide open and the sky's the limit on mind altering drugs if you want, but this is by no means a logical nor biblically true conclusion. I think it might fall more into the realm of wishful thinking : >)

I happily reject the notion that mind altering drugs are "ok" simply because wine is "ok." Again, because drunkenness is condemned, it follows that anything producing "drunkenness" (lack of sober judgment, sound mind, self control, etc.) would fall under the same condemnation. I don't think this is inconsistent with the moderationist position because God has clearly spoken in principle and direct command on issues of sobriety, self control and bondage. He has also addressed the specific issue of wine and its place in His world.

The wisdom of God (not to mention the law of the land) teaches me sobriety and godliness in my view of the use of mind-altering drugs not specifically mentioned in the Bible, and it teaches me almost exclusively by principle.

That same wisdom of God - spelled out in particular and fairly thorough detail regarding wine - teaches me likewise.

So I do not feel the immediacy nor necessity of Peter's syllogism - it simply is not there, and I do not think I am oblivious (nor blinded) to inconsistency in my views on this issue :-) But then again, who ever knows their own blindness?

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

brad reynolds said...

Timotheus,

Well thought out. But I have a question. Since the Bible makes clear that all God’s vegetation is good and created for man then what is wrong with partaking of marijuana provided one not get drunk?

I’m not looking for an anecdotal answer but a biblical one. In fact the effect upon the body/brain is similar for all barbiturates…so on what bases can we say they are biblically wrong except for drunkenness?

If you say they kill brain cells…so does alcohol.

If you say the Bible doesn’t address them so I won’t participate…it doesn’t address chocolate either. I’m not trying to be difficult, just consistent.

The moderationist has no other Biblical prohibition of drugs than drunkenness.

However, the abstentionist admits the wine was different in those days (shown over and over again). Further, it was used for survival purposes – purifying the water.

Thus the abstentionists says Alcohol today is more like the Strong drink condemned by the Bible. This condemnation was because of the ill-effects it had on the body as a barbiturate…therefore, we believe all barbiturates are wrong save for medicinal/survival purposes.

For the effects of moderate drinking on the mind, see my QUOTES AND MORE for the posts Alcohol Study Methodology, Alcohol Abstinence: Bias or Biblical, and a Third Seminary President Shares His Views.

I will also give you this study:

“Brain shrinkage. 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.” (Dr. Stephen Reynolds)

Mopheos said...

Good Morning Brad,

A couple of quick thoughts before heading out for the day.

I'm not sure if you maybe typed this wrong or I'm reading it wrong, but in your second paragraph you say, "so on what bases can we say they are biblically wrong except for drunkenness? " it sounds like you may think that I think drunkenness is acceptable? Just so there is no confusion, I really do not think drunkenness in any form comports with godliness .

Having smoked marijuana for a number of years as a foolish sinner, experience teaches me that the effects of M are quite different than wine, and what is smoked is much less "controllable" than drink. By that I mean when you are high, you are high. Such is not true of wine with a meal, for instance. I would also think that smoking any vegetation, aside from all the medical information available today, is, well...crazy. It is certainly not prescribed biblically. So no traction on that part of the argument.

Anything that brings the mind into subservience and a state of non-soberness - though it may not be technically called "drunkenness" - is flatly condemned in Scripture. On that principle I reject M, and any and all non-medical use of mind altering drugs. I will not be brought into bondage by any of them.

I still insist that the strength of the wine is really not relevant. The issue is not acceptable/unacceptable percentages - it is self-control and sober-mindedness. The Bibles concern is always with drunkenness and its debilitating, dissipating effect.

As far as the physiological effects of wine on the brain, studies such as you note are notorious for their ability to be selective and maleable in their outcome. I'm sure there are as many cases which would falsify this study as would confirm it - maybe even more, if the researchers had the ability to accurately survey the whole of mankind's experience on this issue. Perhaps the study is solid and draws accurate conclusions, perhaps not. My suspicion is that we would find a great many substances we regularly ingest that produce similar effects (or detrimental effects) on the body - "artificial" sweeteners come to mind (pun intended). Nevertheless God's testimony stands on this issue.

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

brad reynolds said...

Timotheos,

You are correct God's Word is sufficient. But if we equate California Chardonnay with NT wine as one of our presuppositions then the debate is over before it begins. Nothing I say can or could convince those with this presupposition.

If we can't agree that the present wines and the NT wines could be different and that it is possible that NT Scholar Stein is right (you would pass it through you before you would get drunk) then we shall never get any further. Moreover, if their is no recognition that they used it as everyday drink, breakfast, lunch, supper for survival then we will get no where.

The equating of our culture to theirs is what I see to be the problem.

Having said all that, I return to barbiturates.

My point which I did not make clear ealier is:
If drunkenness is the only prohibition against wine (as moderationist say), then why isn't this the only prohibiton against other mind-altering drugs.

It appears to me, moderationist are saying..."You must abstain from all mind-altering drugs except alcohol. You can drink alcohol as long as you don't get drunk."

Consistency would state you can participate in any mind-altering drug as long as you don't get drunk.

Concerning marijuana, I have never participated. But one of my friends, who was a regular user/abuser told me that one could dilute it (depending on the quality and amount of hemp) where one could partake without getting drunk (high). In other words, take 2 hits rather than 4.

Concerning the studies, anyone can prove anything. But I have a tendency to believe the numerous studies funded by the alcohol industry are probably the ones which are scewed, not the ones done by scientists not associated with the alcoholic industry.

Below is a recent study from Univ. of Wash. which implies intoxicating drink affects the mind long before drunkenness.

"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

Mopheos said...

Hey Brad,

I'm not really disputing that there were differences between today's wine and NT wine, nor am I disputing everyday use of wine in NT settings. I can accept Dr. Stein's contention, even though I have not seriously interacted with his scholarship. I certainly would not equate their culture with ours. So I have no disagreement with you on each of these points. But if the common usage of wine in NT times made drunkenness normally impossible (or improbable), then God has wasted ink and paper in providing such direct and pointed warnings against drunkenness, and we are left to wonder why He did not speak in the same categorical terms about drinking wine as He spoke, for example, about immorality.

I would, however, equate drunkenness in our day and drunkenness in theirs. The means to drunkenness (altered minds, being high, etc.) is not the salient point as I see it. Perhaps this is the point of our disagreement. And I should make this point clear as well: I do not believe that we are free to "use " wine in any way we please, just short of all-out inebriation. Here I would agree with Dr. Vines - the idea is not to see what we can "get away" with. That might be closer to Peter's Libertinism, which I eschew.

With regard to the barbiturate issue, you will have to petition heaven for an answer to the question why God has not specifically included all other mind-altering drugs in His list of prohibitions. But we have already noted how God speaks about being in bondage to the effects of all mind-altering drugs, and although God Himself does not categorize wine as pharmakia (in contrast to modern abstentionist preference), he still speaks pointedly to its place in His kingdom. So I think that I am not being inconsistent to embrace the Bible's general warnings against bondage and loss of sobriety, while embracing the strictures and blessings which God has given concerning wine in particular.

Of course, concerning the U of W study, I am not in favor of "mild intoxication." I think the study raises important concerns that every God-fearing Christian would be wise to heed. It would be equally unwise for a Christian (or anyone) to climb behind the wheel sleep deprived, dosed up with Nyquil, or after over-indulging - to the point of lethargy - at the table. :-)

Grace and peace,

Timotheos

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Do you not see the reason behind Timotheos' comments? Whether the oinos is diluted or undiluted, the issue is still self-control or lack thereof. Since the Bible makes no distinction between the oinos that got one drunk and the oinos that is contended by some to be so diluted that it can't get you drunk, any distinction we prescribe to such is extra-biblical BY DEFINITION. Thus, the issue - at least Biblically - cannot be how diluted or undiluted the oinos is, but rather what level of self control we use when we drink the oinos. Whether it's your 'California Chardonnay' or your 'diluted grape water' the issue still is - "do not be drunk with wine" is it not? I'm not sure how diluted you believe oinos was, but obviously Paul thought it strong enough to make one drunk, else he would have said, "don't drink the oinos before it is mixed, but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit." He didn't say that. He said, don't be drunk with the oinos. Again, the issue is not diluted or undiluted - that is an argument that cannot be debated Biblically. The issue is, and always has been, self control. Not with wine only, but with everything we do (including onerous comments about other brothers - not directed at you, by the way).

Sincerely,

PTL

IN HIS NAME said...

Qualifications to be a Pastor/Elder.
1Ti_3:3
Not given to wine means “not addicted to wine.” Not violent means “not a striker.” An elder should not be prone to violence or to striking others. not greedy for money: An overseer is not to have a materialistic attitude toward money or possessions. Part of this qualification is a warning to those in church leadership concerning proper management of God's finances. Not quarrelsome means “without fighting.” This is the quality of being peaceable. A bishop or overseer should contend for the faith without being contentious. Not covetous means “not a lover of silver” (1Ti_6:9). Note that this is a second warning about money. Certain Ephesian elders were receiving financial support from the ministry (1Ti_5:17, 1Ti_5:18). Paul exhorted them not to allow their desire for money to become a priority.

brad reynolds said...

Timotheos,
We are agreed in much.

Concerning drunkenness, however, Dr. Stein has made clear, some could get to the wine (which of course was stored for the year) before it was mixed for daily consumption. Thus, the prohibitions of drunkenness.

Pharmakeo is not used in reference to mind-altering drugs…actually it was used in reference to the use of mind-altering drugs for witchcraft or such idolatry – hense the translators are correct in translating it “sorcery” or witchcraft. Thus, the scriptures are silent.

Why is Scripture silent on such devastating and deadly sins as drug use, or suicide? I don’t know, but it seems to me the tenor of the Bible is not a list of do’s and don’ts but rather a call to get as close to Christ as possible…which usually takes care of the vast list of sins not mentioned in the Bible.

Moreover, if I am correct about strong drink…then its application to drugs is a rational one.

Agreed on all else and thanks again for your kind spirit
BR

brad reynolds said...

PTL
We too are agreed on much...the issue is self-control, which is what I practice and would encourage others to practice in the area of abstention:)

Concerning oinos, again we disagree. California Chardonnay is more like the strong drink of the Bible...not the diluted wine. That is the crux of the issue.
BR

brad reynolds said...

In His Name,

Concerning I Tim 3:3 we always interpret words in the context. Thayer makes clear that while paroinos can mean “not addicted to wine” it can also mean “not given to wine.” Translators have rightly translated it as “not given to wine” for two reasons: 1) It would be ridiculous to list drunkenness as a qualification for pastors since no one was to even keep company with drunkards (1 Cor. 5:11) and 2) it would be unusual to require a higher standard of deacons (ie – pastors don’t get drunk, deacons don’t drink much at all). Thus the context calls for the second legitimate meaning of the term.

Concerning the rest of your comment. Thank you. We pastors need to be reminded from time to time the high standards God expects of us.
BR

IN HIS NAME said...

Brad

1Ti 3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
1Ti 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
1Ti 3:3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1Ti 3:4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,
1Ti 3:5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?
1Ti 3:6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
1Ti 3:7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1Ti 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
1Ti 3:9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
1Ti 3:10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
The distinction you try to make regarding 'strong drink' and 'wine' - at least in the new testament, just makes some passages sound really goofy. For instance, if the tenor of the new testament was that wine, in it's undiluted, or 'strong drink' state, truly was sinful, then Paul would have said in Col. 2:16, "let no one judge you regarding food or drink - except strong wine -". Again in Col. 2:21, "Do not touch, do not taste - with the exception of strong wine -". Again, wouldn't Christ have said, "It is not what goes into the mouth - with the exception of strong wine - that defiles a man...." These passages just don't make sense when applying your assertion that wine and strong drink were condemned as sin in the new testament. If the tenor of the new testament was, in fact, that of a prohibition of drink that had the capacity to cause drunkenness, then these passages should have contained a caveat - but they didn't.
I'm sure that someone has written a 30 page diatribe on why Paul and Christ assumed that their readers understood that strong drink would have been an exception in these passages, but honestly, I'm really tired of reading dissertations on why the Bible is saying something besides what it looks like it's saying. Why can't we allow the Bible to speak - as it speaks - and trust God to use what it says to accomplish His will. Does God really need people to tell us why oinos doesn't really mean oinos - unless it's spoken of in a negative light, and then it means oinos. I'm sure some would yes, and, if I may hazard a guess, the reason will include the fact that those of us without a strong knowledge of Greek cannot be trusted to adequately 'read' what the authors were really trying to say.


Biblically challenged,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
We have an English Bible because someone studied the Greek and Hebrew and translated it to English. The point being: whether one takes NT Scholar Robert Stein’s work on “oinos” or another translater’s work, one is still depending on a man to translate the Greek to English. However, we are agreed the Holy Spirit is the teacher of God’s Word in any language.

In translating, however, we look to authoral intent. This includes a meaning of the words in that day. Fortunately, we have been blessed with great Scholars like Stein. Which, by the way, he never said oinos didn’t mean oinos, but rather he told us what it did mean (wine diluted with water). To deny that as its meaning and equate it to California Chardonnay is similar to equating the fresh goats milk in that day with Borden 1% today. It’s two different drinks, although they are both MILK.

Now, I think you are raising the question of whether one Greek word could have more than one meaning and the answer is yes. Oinos could mean juice, fermented juice, and its normal use: fermented juice diluted by water. We always assume the normal meaning unless the text makes CLEAR it is otherwise.

Concerning your weariness. We are agreed there also. I feel like I answer the same questions from different commentators. Nevertheless, back to Colossians. The context of 2:16 and 2:21 is Jewish “Christians” trying to require the church members at Colasse to adhere to Jewish Law for salvation. Thus the context makes clear Paul is not saying “let no one judge your sanctification based on whether you drink intoxicating drink,” but rather “let no one judge your salvation by whether you adhere to Jewish holidays or abstain from drinks and meats sacrificed to gods.”

Thus, if anyone is in the abstention camp, in order to gain favor by God they are wrong. In fact, if anyone is being faithful to their wife and not TOUCHING another woman in order to gain favor by God they are wrong. Gaining favor by God is not accomplished by works or deeds done by the body (do not TOUCH, do not taste, do not handle). But we do live holy lives because we are saved…not to be saved.

The problem infiltrating the Colosse church was legalism…the Jews seemed to follow Paul around and stir his converts toward salvation by Jewish law.

Hope this helps.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
It doesn't help at all. Your points are, as usual, from silence and are inferences drawn into the text. I know that you believe the inferences to be Scripturally grounded, but they serve to muddy the text rather than make it more clear. I know your opinion will differ from mine, but that's where Christian liberty must blossom. I must grant you liberty to interpret as you see best, and trust the same from you.

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
I guess what we have written will reveal what is more in line with the context of Col. 2 and the meaning of Greek words.

Again...I have not started this Blog to convince those who have already decided. That has never been my desire or purpose. And it is certainly not my job.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
'tis refreshing to see one who is willing to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work (i.e. in confirming my belief that the Bible speaks plainly and that to infer into the text is not necessary). I too believe that if the Holy Spirit guides you into the belief that the new tesatment writers were, in actuality, addressing different kinds of oinos, then who am I to dissuade you? It is on the 'concrete' areas where we must have unity - i.e. Christian charity, speaking only edifying words, etc. You know, the stuff that is specifically addressed. Unfortunately, I think our witness is damaged to a much greater extent by our lack of charity (i.e. desiring brethren to break ranks because of a difference of belief in grey areas, onerous insinuations, etc.) than by whether or not someone sees us holding a glass of wine. Don't you remember Paul's words - the greatest of these is love - against such there is NO law - no need for one.

Proclaiming God's love,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
Thanks for your words. And the encouragement to love. It is good.
However, I have a couple of concerns:

Slavery is not SCECIFICALLY addressed in the Bible, nor is suicide, are we to allow such subjective interpretation on those also.

The Neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth also believed subjective truth through personal revelation is to be held above objective truth through propositional revelation. Surely, you are not heading down this path. In other words, you’re not implying that what God reveals through the use of the word “oinos” and its meaning in that day, should somehow be held subservient to what He subjectively reveals to different individuals about what “oinos” means (and such subjective revelation being contradictory)?

Further, speaking of love…it rejoices in the truth. My love for my brothers is not shown if I remain quiet and refuse to speak truth.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Of course I'm not suggesting that we pursue subjective truth over objective truth. Quite the contrary, I see objective truth as being the plainly spoken words of the Bible with respect to the moderate consumption of alcohol. What I am saying is that no amount of words can persuade you to the truth. I (and others significantly more scholarly than myself) must present the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and convict - it's not my job to convict you. There is quite a difference in speaking the truth and beating someone about the head and shoulders with my interpretation of the truth (present company not accused of such).
With regard to slavery, while our cultural views of such have changed significantly, I see no evidence that the Biblical views have changed. They are now, and always have been, that if you own a slave, you are to love that person with the love of Christ. We, however, have a history of unspeakable abuse with respect to how slaves were treated - and that by those who professed Christianity. I think that plays a significant role in how we view slavery now.
Before I get a maelstrom of poisonous e-mails, however, I am not a proponent of slavery. I just don't see any movement of positions 'Biblically'. If slaves in the US (or any other part of the world for that matter) had been treated the way that I'm sure Abraham treated his slaves (i.e. with respect, love, humility, and recognition of value as a person and not something 'less than' myself), is it possible that our cultural views regarding slavery might be different?
My point is that again, the issue is love. The other issues are peripheral.
You're right - love is not silent - but neither is love arrogant, boisterous, and inciteful (again, present company not accused of such).

Rejoicing in love,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

Thanks

You are most consistent. You say if the Bible doesn't condemn it then it is a matter of conviction and you have applied this consistently to alcohol, marijuana and now slavery.

I admire your consistency.

Will you also apply this to suicide?
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
Suicide, like slavery, is an issue of love (or lack thereof), both for yourself and for God's creation - which is probably the root of the lack of love for yourself (e.g. a warped view of the beauty of God's love for his creation - namely yourself). Suicide is wrong because it is a failure of love, not because God needs to say, "Don't commit suicide." In fact, all of the explicit commandments in the Bible - both the do's and the dont's, are reflections of how we are to interact in love. That is why there is no necessary law when we truly love. If we love others like we are called to do, we don't need the law (Rom. 7 & 8). If I love my wife as I'm called to do, I don't need a commandment saying, "thou shalt not commit adultery." Does that make sense?


Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
I agree. Suicide is a lack of love for that which God has created. But what if one were to destroy part of his body but not the whole? Is that not also a lack of love?
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
If you're addressing alcohol in your analogy, the argument lacks merit as alcohol is specifically commended in scripture - I see no place in either the old testament or the new testament where suicide is commended. Further, it should be without debate that wine, while proven to kill brain cells, has also been proven to be beneficial to the body (improved blood flow, high antioxidants, etc.). So to infer that I am not loving my body when I drink a glass of wine is a silly argument. To infer that I am not loving my body when I make myself drunk is a legitimate argument as then we 'poison' ourselves. Does that make sense?

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
That makes sense. But I have a question: if you are not loving your body when you are drunk, let’s say BAC .10, then are you loving it when BAC is .08 or .03. Are you just loving it less or not loving it at all?

Does it really make sense that one is loving his body at point .09 but is not loving his body at .10. Do you believe that alcohol has no negative effect on the body until one drinks that last half ounce which makes him legally drunk?

Concerning the studies funded by the alcohol industry to show its benefits…I’m not sure they are objective.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
(1) I wasn't in reference to studies funded by the alcohol industry, and (2) I think we have a pretty good picture of drunkenness from Prov. 23 - if we are to use the Bible as the source for our objective truth. One who is drunk will display the following characteristics: one who has unnecessary woe, sorrow, strife, and complaining in conjunction with wounds without cause, redness of eyes, eyes that see strange things and a mind that utters perverse things. You see, culture shouldn't determine sin (drunkenness); we must look to the Bible to determine sin. I think Prov. 23 gives a really good picture of what drunkenness is and that may be 0.05 for some people and it may be 0.15 for others.

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
What if one of those characteristics in Prov. 23 is missing is one still drunk? What if two are missing? What if 3?

Once again, what is drunkenness?
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I have provided as objective a picture of drunkenness as the Bible provides. I'm not sure what you want me to answer. What is your definition of drunkenness?

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
I believe the concept of drunkenness is subjective.

Which is my point. I'm not sure we can ever say, "at this exact moment one becomes drunk, but at an ounce earlier he was not in sin."

Thus, even if one did not believe the Bible spoke against moderation...wisdom would entail staying as far from "drunkenness" as possible. Not an ounce away, not 8 or 24 ounces away, but abstention.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I think that's fine for someone to hold that belief. The reality of the Bible, however, is different. The Bible does, in fact, tell us to guard against drunkenness. It also, however, assumes - if not condones - the use of alcohol in moderation. Therefore, there must be and is - Biblically - a distinction between drinking in moderation and drunkenness. I know we've used the analogies ad-nauseum, but I'm not going to stay away from sex because it could lead to lust.

Graciously,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
Thanks for your spirit and consistency.

I know of no passage in the Word where God condoned intoxicating drink for recreational purposes. I do know of passages where God spoke of intoxicating drink negatively. But the corpus of Scripture certainly allows it for survival or medicinal purposes.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I know of only one passage in the Bible that makes the distinction between consumption 'for pleasure' as you call it, and consumption 'for survival or medicine' - that being Paul's instruction to Timothy, which purpose (with regard to the ailment) is vague (i.e. was it due to some kind of virus, was it due to the fact that Timothy just drank water, etc.?). In all the other passages which deal with the moderate consumption of alcohol, there is no indication that it is for survival or medicinal purposes. There are several passages, however, which indicate that the moderate consumption of alcohol 'for pleasure' is commended by God. As mentioned earlier, though, your conviction to abstain completely is an honorable and laudable conviction - for you.

Sincerely,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

PTL
If this were about convictions we wouldn't discuss it.

If you know of a text where there was intoxicating drink (ie - they were getting drunk) and God condoned it then please show it. To assume "oinos" always meant intoxicating drink ignores culture and the normal use of the word.

I can point to text where strong drink is looked negatively on.

For further, understanding please read my newest post.
BR