Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Was Isaiah a Southern Baptist?

Was Isaiah a Southern Baptist? The obvious answer is no. But a better question is: would he be welcomed as a Southern Baptist leader? Or would he be marginalized as old school; out of touch; and the reason our churches aren’t growing? I get the impression from some pastors, bloggers and church growth authors that many would feel uneasy about Isaiah as a leader in the SBC. His messages were two negative, his lifestyle was counter-cultural, he didn’t speak about love enough, and he wasn’t a “statesman.”

While some eschew the prophetic voice, I would assert that it is the loss of the prophetic voice that is the problem. When I was a YOUNG Southern Baptist, it was the prophetic voice, which inspired me to repent of my sins and follow hard after God. What was it that energized the convention when Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, Adrian Rogers, and W.A. Criswell spoke? The prophetic voice!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “We don’t need to be known for what we stand against, we need to be known for what we stand for” than I would give a small fortune to Lottie this Christmas. Yes, we are to be known for what we stand for but we are ALSO to be known for what we stand against!!!

We are known for being one of the first emergency responders during natural disasters (at times more numerous than the American Red Cross). We are known for financing the greatest missionary force ever. We are known as “people of the book.” But we are also known for standing against the ills of society. We are known for standing against homosexuality, we are known for opposing the consumption of ethanol, barbiturates or other mind-altering drugs for the purpose of neurological pleasure, we are known for our stance against abortion. And I ask: Is this a problem?

It seems to me some would have us look and sound more like Oprah Winfrey than the Apostle Paul: that the ideal pastor is one who cusses or imbibes of alcohol; that he models his dress after the world and dances around sin. Yes, we are to love those who are in sin, however, refusing to boldly call sin sin is not love.

When we quote John 3:16 let us not forget John 3:19. We would be wise to remember that Romans 1 lays the foundation for Romans 6:23. May we never forget that the following verses are quick and powerful and INSPIRED: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” Now lest anyone think I am on some sort of crusade against homosexuality, I am not. In fact, gossip has split far more churches than homosexuality ever will.

What I am saying is: when we give a lost person the book of Romans let’s not apologize for chapter 1. Let’s not even insinuate to the world that we are somehow embarrassed by any part of the Word of God. Let’s proclaim it in all of its glory and power and life. Let the prophetic voice ring loud and clear in the pulpits of our churches again!!! A person in sin should feel uncomfortable in our church services…there should be a conviction of sin when one is in the presence of God.

The early church grew not because she looked like her culture but precisely because she didn’t; and she was persecuted for it. Perhaps our problem in the SBC (and evangelicalism as a whole) is not the prophetic voice but rather the loss of it.


Anonymous said...

Isaiah might not be in your camp after all. Isaiah was able to talk about ungodly abuse and godly use .

[ abuse ] Isaiah 5:11-12 11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, who stay up late in the evening that wine (yayin ) may inflame them! 12 Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine ( yayin ); But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD, Nor do they consider the work of His hands.

[ abuse ] Isaiah 5:21-23 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! 22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine ( yayin ) and valiant men in mixing strong drink, 23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!

[ abuse ] Isaiah 28:7-8 7 And these also reel with wine (yayin ) and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine ( yayin ) they stagger from strong drink; they reel while having visions, they totter when rendering judgment. 8 For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place.

[ blessing from God ] Isaiah 25:6 6 The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine (shemer ), choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine (shemer ).

[ blessing from God ] Isaiah 27:2 2 In that day, "A vineyard of wine (chemer), sing of it!

[ normal ] Isaiah 55:1-2 "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine ( yayin ) and milk Without money and without cost. 2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.

I don’t know about others who read this blog but I preach against homosexuality, abortion etc…yes, and drunkenness. I preach through books of the Bible and therefore I hit all types of issues. What did you mean about men that model their dress after the world?

brad reynolds said...

I don't engage anonymity much so if you want to pursue conversation here please own your thoughts by placing your name behind them.

Nevertheless, I will share.

Thank you for valiantly making the exact point that Peter Lumpkins makes in his book.

Yayin and oinos could refer to fresh juice from the vine, fermented juice and fermented juice diluted with water (more for the purification of water than anything). Thus context, prevails as to which is which.

We either must assume that God was schizophrenic or we must assume that every time yayin is used negatively it refers to drunkenness and everytime it is used positively it refers only to destroying a few brain cells for pleasure and only getting slightly intoxicated OR we must assume when it is used positively it is referring to the non-intoxicating yayin where as when it is used negatively it is intoxicating yayin.

I think in the context of Prov 23 and the whole of Scripture as well as logic the latter is the correct hermeneutical understanding. Hope that helps.

Concerning pastors dress I have not so much a certain dress in mind as much as the desire to look, act and be like the world.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Reynolds,
I’ve found that even most drinkers can appreciate the prophetic stance Southern Baptists take on alcohol. We need more professors and preachers speaking out on these issues. Thanks for your unambiguous conviction against beverage alcohol.
David R. Brumbelow

brad reynolds said...

I agree. When I was a pastor in Va I went to visit a lost person and he said as he held a beer "I don't need your religion because one of your deacons drinks this also. I don't want to be a hypocrite."

You and I both know the logic of the post person was wanting, nevertheless perception is reality and while I have had experiences where consumption of alcohol caused some to think Christians are hypocrites I have never experienced any lost person say "I think you are legalistic because you don't drink so I don't want your religion."

Typically the lost world admires such standards as abstinence but sadly the charge of legalism comes from "Christians" who imbibe. Which begs the question.

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

As long as we are sharing stories we could say that many lost persons are amazed that Christians say that having a glass of wine or beer is a sin when they know that Jesus turned water into wine. The story that was shared about the man having a beer and said that I don’t need your religion because your deacon drinks… is not a legit reason to reject the claims of the gospel. The deacon is only a hypocrite if he preaches that having a beer is a sin and then has one himself. I have had many lost persons ask me is it sin, to which I say, not in moderation. I tell that drunkenness is a sin and it will destroy your life… this is biblical in my view. Calvin, Luther and many of the Puritans held this view. Increase Mather said, “Drink is in itself a good creature of God, and to be received with thankfulness, but the abuse of drink is from Satan; the wine is from God, but the drunkard is from the Devil.” All of these men could speak about proper use and abuse. The unregenerate heart is the heart of the issue.

If you want to abstain, abstain. But don’t make this a litmus test of evangelical orthodoxy or Jesus, Luther and Calvin fail the test.

Brad, you said, “Concerning pastors dress I have not so much a certain dress in mind as much as the desire to look, act and be like the world.” How are you determining this? If a pastor preaches in jeans because that is what he has worn most of his life and his people do not care—is that like the world in your book? Exactly what are you talking about? How do you know that their dress is wanting to be like the world?

brad reynolds said...

I will remove any further comments you make without your name.

Once you own your thoughts I will be glad to respond to them. I want to, and I enjoy open conversation but I expect others to abide by my guidelines to keep things Christlike (part of being Christlike is owning up to your words).

If you go back to my original rules in 2006 I allow anonymous comments but only with the individuals names attached.

Thanks - just a note though - the assumption about Jesus drinking intoxicating wine for pleasure is an argument from silence and a dangerous one at that. If you read my comment you will notice I agreed the logic of the lost person is lacking. Further, I don't run up to lost people and tell them drinking is sin - I explain the NT and OT terms to the congregation I teach (saved people by their own profession).

Finally, you never addressed the choices you have to make about oinos and the positive/negative.

Further, anyone who says "preaching in jeans is wrong" would be a tad prudish - but if one's motive for wearing the latest fads is to be accepted by the world than whether it is a suit or shorts the idea of acceptance by the world is counter-biblical.

Hope that helps

brad reynolds said...

One other note I don't run up to lost people and tell them that drunkenness is sin either.

When I share the gospel with them I explain all have sinned but I don't point out any precise sin they may be committing - they don't need to stop drinking they need to get saved and the HS will take care of the rest as they study God's Word.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
brad reynolds said...

By nature blogging dialogue is very impersonal but Christian fellowship is not...thus this is my only way to make dialogue somewhat exhorting with those who post anonymously.

If you choose to deceive me and others by not using your name than dialoguing over alcohol would seem somewhat getting the cart before the horse. You may need to address integrity issues first.

However, if you choose to use your actual name than perhaps we can dialogue maybe even develop a fellowship even though we disagree with each other.

Finally, I have no desire to dialogue with a phantom.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
volfan007 said...


Very good post. I really the thought of the Early Church was not like the culture, but was counter-culture. I think that we're missing that whole point today...we must be salt and light to this world...not be just like'em.

Brad, I also have a hard time understanding these guys, who seem to strive so hard to make drinking alcohol for pleasure ok and acceptable. I really dont understand it...when we read the Bible and see all the negative things written about drinking fermented wine. And, when we see all the negative and dangerous and deadly things that alcohol does to people and to our society today. Brad, do some of the people in the SBC want to fit into the world(culture) so much that they will say that it's ok to drink strong drink? to get high on alcohol?


brad reynolds said...

my blog - my rules. You are more than welcome here but abide by my rules if you want to post. I allow anon bloggers because some don't have a blog account - but I do expect people to believe what they say - if you truly believe what you are saying than you put your name behind it.

brad reynolds said...

I really struggle with someone saying "I am going to purposely destroy some of the temple of God (brain cells) in order to enjoy a few moments of pleasure and thus glorify God"

But I will hasten to say the greater problem is not the consumption of alcohol for pleasure but the desire of our churches and Christians today to be accepted by culture. I think it is a deceptive temptation we must all guard against.

Thanks for your words about Salt and Light!!!

Joe White... said...

Dr. Reynolds,

I really enjoyed reading this post; it was very challenging.

I think just about any prophet you select would have had the same issues; be it Isaiah, Elijah... or how about John the (it is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife, O genereation of vipers) Baptist. :)

May the Lord give us back our prophetic voices!

brad reynolds said...

and agreed:):):)

Inherit the Wind said...

I think with me is not that I do not want preachers to be negative, I do. I just want preachers also to be positive also and take things a little into perspective. For example biblically homosexuality is not that big of a deal. It is wrong, but even if one counts all the uses of the hebrew Keleb it is only mentioned a handful of times. Therefore I think it should only be preached on a handful of times. Also, maybe 5% of this country is gay, but about 30% have had abortions or divorces. Those are much bigger issues. Also, I would like to hear Southern Baptists preach on the forgotten doctrines of church autonomy, separation of church and state, individual soul liberty, and congregationalism. I am tired of getting blank stares when I talk to Southern Baptists on this. Also, preaching on interdenominational dating might be nice too.