Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Iconoclast

Last week, John MacArthur crashed the kegger party of the young, restless, and reformed with this post:

Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

Making sure to let everyone think he still has a relevant opinion on these matters, Steve Camp tweeted,

I love and respect John Mac very much, but IMHO this article was a legalistic over-the-top driveby. Spurgeon smoked cigars, Luther drank beer, the Lord drank wine. We can enjoy those things to God and His glory. The only prohibition is drunkenness Eph. 4:18f [sic] not consumption.
I believe he means Ephesians 5:18ff, but none the less...

In a response to a commenter to that statement, Steve followed up by writing,
This was an ad hominem drive-by. He's arguing against YRR pastors using beer, cigars, wine, tattoos as a point of focus in ministry. But offers no specific examples to prove his concerns. Thus is old school Bob Jones coming to the surface, not careful exegesis from the text of Scripture.
The terrible thing about our twitter age is that it has taken a devastating toll upon reading comprehension.

If Steve had carefully read John's article, rather than the opening few paragraphs, he would have seen that John said nothing about the consumption of alcohol being a "sin."

Do it yourself: Go to the article, hit CTRL + F and do a search on "sin." John uses the word maybe 6 times in his article. Once referring to an idiot book by Mark Driscoll in which he seriously suggests that Europe has more biblical beer than America, a second time to chide the knee-jerk reaction by the YRR who immediately shout like Steve Camp that "THE PROHIBITION IS ABOUT DRUNKENNESS, NOT CONSUMPTION! and drag out the "Martin Luther drank beer" argument, and a few other times to address the sin that does arise from consuming too much alcohol.

Nothing in the article has John stating he is against the consumption of alcohol.

Steve's next tweet suggests he read a little deeper into the article. The point John was making is as Steve reports: John is troubled by the YRR using beer, wine, and liquor, or other similar vice, as a point of focus in ministry, especially the "Christian liberty" angle.

A couple of thoughts here:

First, John did provide specific examples of his concerns. There's no ad hominem going on. I count at least 10 links taking us to the websites of young reformed guys who make beer and wine, if not the focal point of their ministry, at least a major part of it.

Second, does John really need to have his "exegesis" in order to have this concern? Steve doesn't recognize this concern? I recognize it. Young people who feel it is their "Reformed" duty to stick in the eye of the old-time American fundamentalism they so disdain now by imbibing alcohol certainly troubles me. Especially when they make lame appeals to Martin Luther who lived what? 500 YEARS AGO! And Puritan breweries: you know, the Puritans. The folks who outlawed wedding rings and Christmas trees. Something tells me the YRR aren't jumping on board with the Puritans with those items.

Steve is much like many of the folks who left comments under that blog. They focus on what John has taught about the use of NT wine in previous sermons and claim it is untenable. It doesn't matter if it is. That's a separate discussion.

What does matter is that wine and beer drinking has become the idol of the YRR. There is just no arguing against this fact. Everyone is upset at John because he came in and kicked them over.

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Blogger thomas4881 said...

Wasn't the reason Luther and other people the last millenium drank alcohol was to protect themself from bad drinking water?

8:16 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

No. Not necessarily. It also had the value of giving you a buzz.

8:47 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger Joshua said...

I'm not sure why you put "sin" in quotes up there... After decrying the lack of reading comprehension, you based a chunk of this post on the fact that a word that does NOT appear in Steve Camp's post DOES appear in John MacArthur's post, but not in the incriminating context.

I've been reading your blog for a few years now, and for the most part enjoying it. I also don't consider myself "in" with any particular group in this debate. I agree with you and John MacArthur that perhaps a lot of "the other side" is being uncouth, disrespectful, or however else you want to think of it. But they're not the other side. Getting angry or spiteful at them (which you very much come across as in this post) isn't going to help them. And shouldn't that be the first thing?

I hope I don't cause offence.

Disclaimer: I do occasionally enjoy hard cider. (No, not tonight.)

11:40 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

Proverbs 20:1Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

11:53 PM, August 13, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with the mention of idols. What happens when somebody attacks something that we hold onto more strongly than Jesus? We either get defensive or we listen attentively to the counsel that is being provided. It doesn't mean that we can not disagree, but I think it is obvious that the reaction here is purely defensive and doesn't even account for the problems that exist in many YRR groups. It is kinda reminiscent of Driscoll's whole attack on cessationists as much of that seemed like a not-so-subtle swipe at MacArthur.

Thanks, Fred, for this post. I know you'r still on your break, but it is nice to see you posting from time to time.

4:48 AM, August 15, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Joshua asks,
I'm not sure why you put "sin" in quotes up there...

The suggestion by Camp is that John's post represents Bob Jones legalism. The prohibition against drunkenness, not consumption. He implies that John is saying consumption is a sin. When you read the comments under the actual post, a number of them parrot his charge. It just isn't true.

But they're not the other side. Getting angry or spiteful at them (which you very much come across as in this post) isn't going to help them.

I just don't see my post as angry or spiteful. I am not someone who believes we need to be touchy-feely in these matters. Camp's tweets are absurd and off the mark. He's dead wrong about what John wrote and I refuse to allow him, or anyone for that matter, to make false accusations, especially with a subject that has become an idol for many young, immature men.

6:43 AM, August 15, 2011  
Blogger donsands said...

Man! Whata photo. I'm glad I wasn't driving that beer truck. Actually I did work for Anheuser Busch here in Maryland, and I left a bay door open on a truck, and as the driver turned the corner unto the main highway, there were hundreds of cans of Bud all over the road.

John MacArthur is such a good preacher, and incredibly balanced; I'm surprised Campie jumped in there so quick. But Steve has always been one to jump in and mix it up, hasn't he. I love brother Steve. But it seems he's off a tad here.

9:20 AM, August 15, 2011  
Blogger Edward said...

I really don't believe it is wrong to drink but I would like my shepherds to to hold to a higher standard like the nazerine vow. I love Br. John but I would not have much respect for him and his ministry if he went around in overalls with tattoos long hair and sipping a brew. I guess you can call me old fashion.

12:02 PM, August 15, 2011  
Blogger donsands said...

I just read another article from a good brother, and he makes some excellent points, in disagreeing with pastor John, whom he admires a lot. I'm sort of stuck in the middle now. Got to pray a bit and think a bit.

The blog post: http://www.ordinarypastor.com/?p=8366#more-8366

2:09 PM, August 15, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

Fred, I just came back here to make sure you were holding to to your Sabbatical. It seems to be virtually nil. Good. Now I have something thoughtful to read.

8:17 PM, August 15, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Don, I left the following comment with Eric:

Red Meat for the Fundamentalists? Are you serious? Basically, you are stating that John’s concerns with a problematic element within the YRR movement are dishonest. He just wrote up a post about an imaginary chimera ONLY for the purposes of whipping up the old-time Bob Jones fundamentalists out there. Am I understanding your conclusion correctly? Why would he do that exactly? To get money from them or something?

Using your own logic here, am I to take your response as red meat for the anti-Bible belt establishment? Judging by their back slapping comments, they seem to be whoppin’ and shoutin’ amen! brother preach it!

BTW, the last four years proves Zell Miller was right.

6:24 AM, August 16, 2011  
Blogger donsands said...

Would love for Erik and John MacArthur to meet and pray and talk. I love both these pastors. I suppose that won't happen, but I wish it would.
Thanks Fred for sharing your heart. Iron against iron is a blessing, though it does get a bit hot.

6:57 AM, August 16, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

Fred and others:

I love MacArthur, esteem him highly, but think he is absolutely dead wrong on the issue of alcohol and his insistence that Pastors should abstain. However, I think his article has great merit.

Is it all right for a Christian to watch football? Sure. Is it ok for Christian men to get together for the sole purpose of watching a game? Sure. Is it ok to watch football then have a Bible Study? Sure. But do you really want to be known for being a Christian obsessed with football? I'd say no. The same principle is true with drinking, smoking, cussing, and tattoos (assuming you buy that all of these are Christian liberties and I don't). You don't want to exercise your liberties to the point that it becomes a defining element of who you are or what you are about. And that is one of the main thrusts of MacArthur's article.

As an aside, I don't like it when people associate Jesus as in "WWJD" whether it be beer, cars, or charities. WE aren't Jesus. Our thoughts aren't even close to His. Personally, I think it is, in a sense, taking our Savior's name in vain. You think it is ok to have a beer. Great, so do I. But don't even try to tell me that a certain beer is what Jesus would drink. That is disrespectful to our Lord and Savior.

5:18 PM, August 16, 2011  
Blogger Lew Miller said...

I Look forward to your return.

9:37 AM, August 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

I was hoping that Fred had broken his blogfast again. Oh well, all good things come to him who waits...

7:46 PM, August 29, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I plan my return for later this week.

7:50 PM, August 29, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

@Aaron, I think insistence is a tad bit strong. I don't think he'd pop into somebody else's local church and tell them that they need to change their beliefs regarding elders and deacons. I think he has a conviction about this and that he follows it.

1:57 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...


I'm not sure about that. I think he has such strong convictions about it that he'd at least recommend it to all churches. But obviously, I can't speak for him.

4:19 PM, September 06, 2011  

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