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

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Lame Arguments the YRR Should Avoid When Defending Alcohol Consumption

Whilst I was on my blog break, John MacArthur, stirred the dander of the 30-something pastor set who love to play like they are sophisticated metropolitans. He wrote an article basically telling them to put down their beer steins and wake up to the fact that there is more to Christian liberty than the unshackled, "William Wallace" freedom of drinking imported booze.

I know they were upset with him, because I read a lot of their blog posts and tweets. Not only did the bulk of them entirely miss the point John was making, a number of them would spiral off into left field with some lame arguments they put forth to defend their convictions.

I boiled those arguments down to the four or so lamest ones I encountered repeatedly, and I thought I would highlight them for our educational pleasure.

Before getting to them, however, let me offer some preemptive comments.

I am not a teetotaler. I would never advocate for being a teetotaler. I probably have just as much disdain, if not more, for the legalistic social mores hoisted upon undiscerning Christians by classic American fundamentalists as representing true, Christian virtue as the YRR folks do.

In fact, I like a good wine. I may have a glass if I am on vacation with my wife and we have opportunity to stay at one of those fancy Pacifica hotels dotting the coast of California. We sometimes splurge a little and buy a bottle of Bailey’s around Thanksgiving time that takes us a good couple of months to sip on.

However, I am also aware of the fact that alcohol in any form is viewed by the majority of American Christians as being “sinful.” Yes, I realize they are mistaken about that, but reality is reality, and that attitude is not changing anytime soon, in spite of YRR efforts to the contrary.

As long as beer and wine is perceived as a terrible vice used by party people on spring break, rowdy tailgaters at a football game, and tavern brawlers whose mugshots appear on the “Smoking Gun” website, it is not a wise idea for Christian ministers to promote alcohol consumption among their people.

My life is lived in front of many folks, and it is to those people I am responsible for ministering Christ. Making it a habit to flaunt my liberty with alcohol consumption is not helpful for them, and will only generate more confusion than is necessary.

Now, with that being stated, let’s look at the lame arguments the YRR make to defend their alcohol consumption.

Martin Luther and/or the Reformers and/or the Puritans brewed beer and consumed wine

This is generally the immediate response to my position of cautious moderation. “Well, Martin Luther and/or the Reformers drank beer, so why can’t we?”

Keep in mind that Martin Luther lived 500 YEARS AGO! While we certainly applaud Luther and express our heart-felt Christianly thanks for him defending the timeless truths of the Gospel, that does not mean we are to automatically emulate him, or any other Reformer for that matter, and his various social convictions.

Think about it. What is more important? That we reform ourselves according to biblical standards, or historical standards? Honestly, what was a normal part of society in Germany 500 years ago may had been acceptable, but was it necessarily biblical? Even if it is just American Christians who have weird hang-ups with alcohol because of the old prohibition days still doesn’t mean we need to be like German Christians today. It may not be the best use of liberty for them either just because they live in Europe and have no connection to our prohibition past.

The same can be said about the other Reformers as well. Do we adopt all the social conventions of the Reformers and the Puritans just because they did them? Several Reformers practiced astrology, like Phillip Melanchthon. That’s not to say everything Melanchthon wrote stinks of new age mysticism. He was just as much a complex sinner as the rest of us. But his belief in astrology does reflect a common, historic practice among many Protestants during his time. So, who is ready to reclaim horoscopes from the Fundies and reform them for the glory of God?

The more bizarre use of the "Luther drank beer" argument is the appeal to Puritans, who supposedly were quite the bar flies, or at least one would think so according to many of the YRR. But we’re talking about the Puritans. These were the guys who thought wedding rings were popish and outlawed Christmas during Cromwell’s Protectorate. Will we “reform” according to those convictions?

And just a closing word about Mark Driscoll’s absurd claim that a brewery was the first building the Pilgrims built upon arriving in the new world. This is an urban legend. If you and your people are sick and dying and winter is coming on in a strange land, do you waste time building a brewery? Or will it be basic shelter?

obesityFood is abused by way too many people, but you don't hear Christians crying out about gluttony. Yet there are more people in churches who overeat than there are alcoholics and drunkards, and no one rebukes these brothers and sisters for their reckless overindulgence in food.

The biggest (no pun intended) problem with this argument is that gluttony is not just overeating. It is especially NOT overeating in the sense of a guy eating an entire large pizza in one sitting or scarfing down Chili’s 3,200 calorie “Freakin’ Onion” appetizer all by himself.

Gluttony is always tied to drinking in the Scriptures. What we know to be a drunken, debauched lifestyle. One may say overeating is a part of the debauched lifestyle, but it is the idea of out-of-control, riotous living that makes “gluttony” sinful. This is not super-sizing your McDonald's order.

Consider Deuteronomy 21:20:

And they shall say to the elders of his city,`This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.

If you look at the entire context, you have parents – PARENTS; you know, mama and daddy – bringing their son before the elders to be judged because he is basically a thick-headed good for nothing who spends his time and money (family’s money) on riotous living. The word “glutton” has the idea of a vile, worthless person. Notice what happens with this son. He is brought before the elders of the town so they can pass judgment upon him and if they judge against him, he is stoned to death. That’s the death penalty, folks. He is not executed for being 60 pounds overweight and having lunch at Jack in the Box every other day.

scooterThe health consequences associated with eating recklessly is no joke. Just ask anyone with diabetes. Overeating should be treated just as seriously as alcoholism.

Related to the “gluttony” argument is the “obesity is just as bad if not worse than alcoholism” argument. This one is usually put forth in the combox after a teetotaler lists a bunch of statistics telling how many people die from alcohol related deaths, or how many women and children are abused by alcoholic husbands or parents. As a rebuttal, it’s dogmatically proclaimed that obesity is just as bad if not worse of an epidemic and social problem as alcohol.

This is a profoundly ridiculous comparison. The societal impact of alcoholism and obesity is incomparable. That is because alcoholism has the greatest potential to destroy innocent lives.

Many innocent lives.

In fact, alcohol has destroyed those lives unmercifully. There are no Mother’s Against Obese Driving organizations advocating against 350 pound people driving automobiles. There are no laws against driving under the influence of fried chicken. A cop won’t stop a guy and ask him if he has been eating, and then give him a breathalyzer to test his blood-gravy level. And there is a good reason for this: Obesity only hurts one person. No man, after leaving the Macaroni Grill, has ever gotten into his SUV, and under the influence of the chicken Alfredo platter he consumed 30 minutes before, ran a stop light and killed a family.

Now, just so I am clear. I am not saying obesity is a good thing. Being overweight does have considerable health problems for the individual. AND I would say Christians should make eating healthy a part of their spiritual lives. My point here is not to advocate overeating, but to merely show that obesity is no where near being the societal problem associated with the consumption of alcohol. No where in the ball park. Obesity is a result of bad lifestyle choices. Much like smoking, another vice the YRR tend to encourage.

grass

Why do we want to be so legalistic about alcohol when it is such a blessing to mankind? God created wine for us to enjoy the bounty of His earth. The prohibition is against drunkenness, not consumption.

It is believed that because wine is processed from grapes, and alcohol is a natural derivative of fermented grapes, that places alcohol in a special category of blessing. Additionally, YRR argue that passages like Psalm 104:15 which says, And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man's heart proves that God blesses the consumption of alcohol. After all, Psalm 104 is a psalm of praise to God who provides all good things for mankind.

Of course, this line of argumentation ignores the overwhelming multitude of biblical passages that warn against the consumption of alcohol. Certainly the prohibition is against drunkenness, not consumption, but seeing that the Bible speaks so pointedly against the dangers of drinking alcohol, why would God's pastor want to use a tavern as a setting for a men's Bible study?

Moreover, this is the exact same argument I have heard from Christians who seriously think it is God blessed to smoke pot. I kid you not. I once had one fellow, with a stern conviction in his voice and passion in his eyes, explain to me that God gave ALL the grass and green herb of the field for man to use, and that means cannabis. I reckon, by extension it would also include opium and the coca plant. And before anyone tries to "rebut" me by saying "but the grass and herbs were meant to be for FOOD, not SMOKING, duh," keep in mind that pot can be baked in brownies.

And one final thought in response to the "the prohibition against drunkenness, not consumption" reasoning. There is no prohibition against slavery in the Bible either. Really. Go look it up. Paul never condemned slavery as a practice. The only thing condemned was "man stealing." So, as long as your slave isn't "stolen" there is no prohibition against owning him or her. Who is up to the challenge of defending slavery for the glory of God? Anyone?

Lookit

You young, restless and reformed dudes, no one wants to stifle your fun. Yes, I realize a lot of you all were saved in one of those smothering, fundamentalist Baptist churches who regulated every behavior and activity with an iron fist of legalism like a draconian-driven HOA board of directors. I mean, you couldn't even wear short pants in the church building, let alone even dream about drinking a beer. I sympathize with you. I really do. But honestly, is drinking beer really THAT important? Seriously?

I have a niece who, when we went to Sunday brunch at some fancy restaurant, would only eat macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. She had an entire buffet laid out before her, and she obsessed on the mac N' cheese. I remember telling her, "You have this wonderful banquet of food and all you are eating is mac N' cheese? You know, there is much more to life than mac N' cheese." YRR pastor, there is much more to Christian liberty than drinking imported beer.


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24 Comments:

Blogger RandyS said...

I agree, we ought to be sensitive about alcohol consumption in age where the majority view is that it's sinful. I go to extreme lengths to avoid photos being taken of me that will end up on FB with a beer in hand. However, I find your lamest arguments to be a misrepresentation. I understand you want to avoid a flame war, but without citing sources all you're doing is adding to the hearsay.

>>"Honestly, what was a normal part of society in Germany 500 years ago may had been acceptable, but was it necessarily biblical?"

Yes, It was biblical. For one, our Lord's first miracle pertained to making wine. Our Lord, himself, was mistaken for a winebibber because he did come eating and drinking (unlike John the independent Baptist). The bible is full of commands to make use of strong drink in OT festivities, and it was instituted in the NT Lord's supper.

It's not 500 year old reformation culture anyone is trying to revive. It's a biblical, pre-fundy worldivew we all ought to embrace.

>>"Food is abused by way too many people, but you don't hear Christians crying out about gluttony."

I haven't heard this one argued, but I do recognize that the teatotaler stance is a distortion of what sin is. If someone struggling with fornication decided that sex of all kind were sinful and looked down upon married, pregnant women, we would all be quick to correct them: "no, an abuse of sex is sinful."

I don't want to downplaying the lack of sensitivity demonstrated in YRR pastors. However, the problem is that fundy's like John MacArthur are contributing to a distorted view of sin, rather than helping educate. He's just as much a problem in all this as the YRR.

I think you've chosen the poorest arguments so that you could build your case. You're adding to the confusion of the topic.

7:27 AM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Randy says,
I understand you want to avoid a flame war, but without citing sources all you're doing is adding to the hearsay.

Just check the comments under the post series at GTY. Also Steve Camp's series of tweets around the same time as those posts, and there was a pastor in Nebraska who took umbrage with being linked in the original post series at GTY. Those are a few examples. I didn't think I needed to reference them seeing these arguments are ubiquitous.

continuing,
The bible is full of commands to make use of strong drink in OT festivities, and it was instituted in the NT Lord's supper.

Commanding the use of "strong drink?" Where? I did a BW search for "strong drink" and I come up with four references: Proverbs 20:1, 31:6; Isaiah 24:9; Luke 1:15. None of them are positive.

continuing,
the problem is that fundy's like John MacArthur are contributing to a distorted view of sin, rather than helping educate. He's just as much a problem in all this as the YRR.

Can you provide some examples? I thought John's specific post on this was clear and concise and convicting, hence the reason why the YRR were worked up into a lather. How exactly did it distort the view of sin and not educate?

7:53 AM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger RandyS said...

The distorted view of spirituality is asceticism "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" (Col 2:20-23). To categorize a population who consumes or partakes in a material thing God created (whether food, drink or marriage) as unspiritual is a distortion of God's truth and infringes on our definition of sin. MacArthur's position on abstinence contributes to a distortion of sin/spirituality that is symptomatic of modern evangelicalism. The rejection of asceticism and the spiritual/secular dichotomy is something that had been recovered in the reformation.

The categorization of the weaker brethren in scripture should not be a position held by and proclaimed by a preacher of God's word. The preachers goal should be carefully helping people along towards a proper view of sin.

Claiming that the wine Jesus made was really excellent grape juice is not only embarrassing, it's a lie and revision of history crafted to benefit an argument that screams "do not handle! do not taste! do not touch!" MacArthur may have given lip-service to the fact that it isn't a sin, but anyone who has listened to him preach for the last decade knows where he stands and who he is preaching to. You said it yourself, "I am also aware of the fact that alcohol in any form is viewed by the majority of American Christians as being 'sinful.'" Why would MacArthur contributed to a distorted worldview that some things are spiritual and some things are secular? It's incipient gnosticism.

>> "Commanding the use of "strong drink?" Where? I did a BW search for "strong drink" and I come up with four references.. None of them are positive."

Well if you are looking for a proof text:

Take for example Deut 14:26, “and spend the money for whatever you desire-oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

Aside from proof texting, you can also very easily make the case that the communion wine was alcoholic enough to make some abusers drunk.

>> "Just check the comments under the post series at GTY."

I guess if you're just looking to interact with lame arguments that works. But all you're doing is adding fuel to the fire and helping people who are convinced of one side, think the other is stupid.

10:20 AM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger RandyS said...

>> "It is believed that because wine is processed from grapes, and alcohol is a natural derivative of fermented grapes, that places alcohol in a special category of blessing."

You are presenting a false dichotomy here. Your implication is that either "the lame argument" that all naturally occurring items on earth are acceptable for food or drink (easily disproven by the existence of pot) OR; a cursory BW search as you claimed to do determines it.

How about neither? How about the robust biblical worldview that neither the YRR nor MacArthurites hold. You know, the ones the reformers actually held?

10:41 AM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Randy writes,
The distorted view of spirituality is asceticism "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" (Col 2:20-23). To categorize a population who consumes or partakes in a material thing God created (whether food, drink or marriage) as unspiritual is a distortion of God's truth and infringes on our definition of sin.

You're giving me even more lame arguments. I'll have to do a follow up. Note that I never said they were unspiritual or even sinful. John never said that either. It has to do with wisdom for leaders to be modeling for their flock. Nothing to do with their spirituality.

continuing,
MacArthur's position on abstinence contributes to a distortion of sin/spirituality that is symptomatic of modern evangelicalism.

John doesn't teach abstinence. He made that clear in his posts. Now you may take issue with his view that a leader's consumption of alcohol ought to be done in private and not in a public setting, but that is not abstinence.

continuing,
The preachers goal should be carefully helping people along towards a proper view of sin.

And how has John (or my post here) not done this? I certainly want to move people toward the goal of arguing persuasively and not emotionally.

continuing,
Claiming that the wine Jesus made was really excellent grape juice is not only embarrassing, it's a lie and revision of history crafted to benefit an argument that screams "do not handle! do not taste! do not touch!"

Neither I nor John have ever made this argument. You've got John R. Rice on the brain, not John MacArthur.

continuing,
You said it yourself, "I am also aware of the fact that alcohol in any form is viewed by the majority of American Christians as being 'sinful.'" Why would MacArthur contributed to a distorted worldview that some things are spiritual and some things are secular?

You haven't really shown this on John's part. Besides, my point, which I think is easily demonstrated, is that foolish YRR pastors contribute to this stereotype. They are hardly helping change things.

continuing,
Take for example Deut 14:26, “and spend the money for whatever you desire-oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

I like this passage and would agree with its principles. But a couple of things. God doesn't "command" the consumption of "strong drink." He merely allows it. And this in the context of a yearly celebration regarding the tithes. It's not a weekly meeting of the men's fellowship at the local tavern.

12:14 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Randy writes,
You are presenting a false dichotomy here. Your implication is that either "the lame argument" that all naturally occurring items on earth are acceptable for food or drink (easily disproven by the existence of pot)

You obviously haven't spoken with Calvinist dope smokers. I have. Believe it or not, and they make a rather compelling case that God has given cannabis to be enjoyed. In fact, they even appeal to that passage in Deut. 14 you cite claiming that "all that your heart desires" entails such food and drink. So it is a bit disingenuous to appeal to these passages for the consumption of Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam, but not pot, just because the Jews didn't know about coca plants or cannabis.

continuing,
How about neither? How about the robust biblical worldview that neither the YRR nor MacArthurites hold. You know, the ones the reformers actually held?

Hence the reason I pointed out to you that part of the biblical worldview help by the Reformers was astrology, no wedding bands, and the condemnation of Christmas celebrations. You can add to that execution for heresy, too, but I would imagine you'll claim I am being "over the top."

12:14 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

It is amazing how when a post is made about people doing/saying wacky/lame things, there seems to be a manifestation of those wacky/lame things that follows.

1:54 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger RandyS said...

>> "So it is a bit disingenuous to appeal to these passages for the consumption of Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam, but not pot, just because the Jews didn't know about coca plants or cannabis."

I can appeal to passages for the consumption and enjoyment of strong drink because they explicitly allow for the consumption and enjoyment of strong drink. THAT'S WHAT THE PASSAGE IS ABOUT. It's not a lame argument. The existence of potheads appealing to scripture doesn't nullify what scripture actually says. I don't understand what is so hard to get?

As for John MacArthur teaching that biblical wine is different than todays wine or that it was accidentally fermented...

Quote: "But the kind of wine that we call "wine" today, rather than grape juice or fruit juice, the kind of wine that we have today is not the same as the kind that would normally be consumed in Biblical times. "

Apparently MacArthur's cohorts have been asking folks to remove his transcribed sermons from their websites, but some are still available on internet archive. http://web.archive.org/web/20100324060320/http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/wine.htm

This is in direct opposition to the purposely aged, fermented wine (Luke 5:39, Is 25:6) described in vivid detail and to be enjoyed.

Here is another reason why YRR are annoyed with MacArthur. He and his proponents are dishonestly playing the part of historical revisionist with both his stance and the biblical view of alcohol.

As for wedding bands, astrology and Christmas celebrations and the reformers... *sigh*.... it's not worth it.

Good day!

2:12 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Larry S. said...

"It has to do with wisdom for leaders to be modeling for their flock. Nothing to do with their spirituality. "

So either Jesus wasn't exercising wisdom when he made wine and allowed it to be published in scripture... or he actually made grape juice, not wine, as MacArthur teaches.

It's funny how the tea-time sympathizers end up condemning even Christ's leadership too.

MacArthur and the YRR are made for each other. Two soterio-only reformed groups ignorant of historic, orthodox Christianity bickering against one another for the same!

What's next? An argument over which evil technology should be boycotted because it's the future mark of the beast?

6:23 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Larry, whose profile is conveniently unavailable, you must be a regular contributor from the AV blog.

Show me where John teaches what you claim.

7:38 PM, September 06, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

Fred,

I would add that along with showing the teaching, that the context needs to be included. Mainly because I don't think that Randy's quote shows us a full enough context to explain the reference to grape juice or fruit juice.

4:22 AM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger MSC said...

Fred,
This may be slightly off topic, but I have been counseling a woman who recently came to faith in Christ. She has a number of health problems for which she takes various medications. Furthermore, she smokes pots for medical reasons (i.e. medical marijuana). She argues that this is okay for the same reasons some YRR's do, it is a plant God made. She argues why would it not be okay as long as one does not abuse it? And I have no reason to think she is smoking it beyond what has apparently been suggested to her by her doctor.

What are we to do with this? I admit I was a bit stumped as to how to respond. Would we put such a thing in the category of the curse? IOW, the curse caused not only thorns and thistles but plants that we might categorize as poisonous perhaps? Obviously, some plants are deadly in that once they are consumed death immediately ensues. Of course marijuana and other such plants can't quite be categorized as poisonous. We could make an analogy that hallucinogenic type plants cause similar effects that alcohol does as far as a drunken state. But in doing so can we really argue abstinence in that case since we don't with alcohol? What sort of Biblical argument can we offer that smoking marijuana is morally wrong?

I am not picking a fight here. I believe smoking pot is wrong, but I am having trouble articulating an argument that make sense.

9:57 AM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I think I have only met one serious user of cannabis for medical reasons. Most everyone else who claim they use it for medical purposes are abusing it in my opinion.

That being said, there are plants, like a pot plant, that can be used for medical purposes. I wouldn't have a problem with a Christian using it under medical supervision, just like any other drug available.

10:23 AM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger Steve Gentry said...

Fred,

The reference to MacArthur teaching that the wine was grape juice can be found here. And please don't quibble that it's actually the moderator and not John himself that makes the statement that it was the best grape juice they had ever tasted.

John's teaching on alcohol is pretty muddled, which is why you had so many commenters that felt like they were speaking for John when they took the total abstinence position. Most readers, both supporters and detractors came away from the post on alcohol with the impression that John's position was one of abstinence. If that isn't John's position, he never corrected the false impression.

Contrast John's teaching with R. C. Sproul's sermon on the wedding feast here.

If John would stick to teaching what the Bible actually says instead of what he wants it to say, we would all be better served.

12:52 PM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Steve writes,
And please don't quibble that it's actually the moderator and not John himself that makes the statement that it was the best grape juice they had ever tasted.

I wouldn't quibble, because that's John saying it. However, let's be a bit more specific than a 2 minute radio spot. Selecting from his commentary on John:

Wine was the staple drink in the ancient Near East. Due to the warm climate and the lack of any means of refrigeration or purification, fruit juice tended to ferment. The result was an alcoholic beverage with the capability of inducing drunkenness. To help avoid the risk of inebriation, wine was commonly diluted with water to one-third to one-tenth of its strength. Though the Bible does not forbid drinking wine, and in some cases commends it (e.g., Ps. 104:14–15; Prov. 31:6; Jer. 31:12; 1 Tim. 5:23), it strongly condemns drunkenness (Gen. 9:20–27; Deut. 21:20–21; Prov. 20:1; 23:29–35; Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3; 1 Peter 4:3)....

To make sure it was acceptable, the headwaiter sampled the food and drink before it was served to the guests. Therefore after the servants brought it to him, he tasted the water which had become wine. Though he did not know where it came from (though of course the servants who had drawn the water did), he was astonished at the high quality of this new batch of wine. He called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine.” There is some historical evidence that most hosts did, as the headwaiter suggested, serve the best wine first (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991], 174). In any case, it was only common sense to serve the good wine first and save the poorer wine for later when the people had drunk freely. The verb methuskō (drunk freely) literally means “to become drunk,” and is so translated in its only other appearances in the New Testament (Luke 12:45; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:7; Rev. 17:2). That does not mean, however, that this particular banquet had become a drunken orgy; the headwaiter was speaking from his own experience. But much to his surprise (and no doubt the groom’s as well), it seemed that the groom had kept the good wine until the last. Surely it was the sweetest, freshest wine ever tasted. This wine did not come from the normal process of fermentation, from grapes, vines, the earth and the sun. The Lord brought it into existence from nothing. Truly this was evidence that He is the Creator (John 1:1–4).


Nothing in there about God only making grape juice or the promotion of teetotalism.

continuing,
John's teaching on alcohol is pretty muddled, ... Most readers, both supporters and detractors came away from the post on alcohol with the impression that John's position was one of abstinence. If that isn't John's position, he never corrected the false impression.

I have yet to see any evidence offered from those posts that John's view was "muddled." All of his detractors entirely missed the point he was trying to make and instead obsessively focused on whether or not a Christian can drink alcohol, something John stated rather clearly, that they could. Anyone who walked away from any of those posts thinking John was unclear, or was arguing for teetotalism, either has serious problems with reading comprehension or he has an ax to grind with John.

1:31 PM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

Isn't it normal for people in outside of America to drink alcohol every day during dinner and other meals? Have the YRR tried this argument yet?

9:42 PM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

Proverbs 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”

9:49 PM, September 07, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

Fred,

From the people I have interacted with it seems that most of them just have an axe to grind with MacArthur for whatever reason. I'd say many of them overlook their own pride to try to point out that MacArthur shows too much pride in his own convictions.

4:39 AM, September 08, 2011  
Blogger Steve Gentry said...

Fred writes,

I have yet to see any evidence offered from those posts that John's view was "muddled." All of his detractors entirely missed the point he was trying to make and instead obsessively focused on whether or not a Christian can drink alcohol, something John stated rather clearly, that they could. Anyone who walked away from any of those posts thinking John was unclear, or was arguing for teetotalism, either has serious problems with reading comprehension or he has an ax to grind with John.

Readers missed the point John was trying to make because he focused so heavily on the "evils" of alcohol. Consider these statements from his post Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty.

we surely ought to be able to say that controlled substances and other symbols of secular society's seamy side are not what the church of Jesus Christ ought to wish to be known for

It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants

no symbol of sin’s bondage is more seductive or more oppressive than booze

deliberately cultivating an appetite for beer or a reputation for loving liquor is not merely bad missional strategy and a bad testimony

In biblical times, wine was necessary for health reasons....Purified tap water and refrigeration make even that use of wine unnecessary today.

Contrary to the current mythology, abstinence is no sin

This tendency to emblazon oneself with symbols of carnal indulgence....

The image of beer-drinking Bohemianism does nothing to advance the cause of Christ's kingdom.

No doubt some of the pastors John is criticizing need to be more careful in their approach to beverage alcohol. This message was lost because the post lacked balance. You say that John clearly stated that a Christian can drink alcohol. Help out my reading comprehension and show me where he states that. Every statement I see him make about alcohol is negative.

There are certainly dangers associated with alcohol use but I think it would be better to teach and model moderation in the use of alcohol rather than grudgingly admitting that it's not really a "sin", but...

Churches jumped on the temperance movement in the last century and instead of teaching temperance they taught abstinence. I think some of what you're seeing today is a backlash against a position that never should have been adopted in the first place.

John could have added to this conversation by writing a balanced post presenting the pros and cons and offering suggestions for bridging the gap between those who believe that the use of beverage alcohol is Biblical and those who promote abstinence as the "more Godly lifestyle". Instead he chose to support the status quo and got the flame war he asked for.

8:07 AM, September 08, 2011  
Blogger Steve Gentry said...

Fred. One more thought.

John may say that using beverage alcohol is not a sin, but his message is that if you want to be a wise, mature, spiritual, and fruitful Christian you won't.

You made this statement in your post.

I am also aware of the fact that alcohol in any form is viewed by the majority of American Christians as being “sinful.” Yes, I realize they are mistaken about that, but reality is reality, and that attitude is not changing anytime soon, in spite of YRR efforts to the contrary.

John's teaching is one of the reasons that American Christians view alcohol use as "sinful". And John isn't alone. The Southern Baptists are even worse.

Change has to start somewhere. From what I've seen in my lifetime, change starts with groups like the YRR's, not established institutions like Bob Jones or Grace to You. I may cringe at some of the things the YRR crowd do, but I'm glad someone is willing to stand up and say "wait a minute, this teaching doesn't stand up to Biblical scrutiny".

Eventually the pendulum will swing back to center, but it won't be through the efforts of institutionalized Christianity. It would be nice if John would be a positive force in changing the mistaken attitudes American Christians have about alcohol use being "sinful". Instead, his post merely reinforces those beliefs. Just read the comments from John's supporters.

8:39 AM, September 08, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

Steve,

Have you looked around at the culture lately? Do you really think that the culture needs to hear that they just need to figure out how to drink moderately? And when you look at the audience being targeted, don't you think that maybe it'd be best to break some people free from some bad habits (binge drinking for one) before talking about moderation?

1:45 PM, September 08, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Steve writes,
You say that John clearly stated that a Christian can drink alcohol. Help out my reading comprehension and show me where he states that. Every statement I see him make about alcohol is negative.

I'll give that to you. It is probably better and more concise to say that John was not advocating teetotalism and leave it at that. In other words, he is not telling Christians they CAN'T drink alcohol, but rather focusing his attention upon a significant problem with YRR ministers who promote drinking as a necessity of spiritual life. The more problematic elements within YRR hardly teach or model moderation, but come close to encouraging it as a vice.

continuing,
I think some of what you're seeing today is a backlash against a position that never should have been adopted in the first place.

Indeed. And it is foolishly being promoted by immature men driven by an emotional disdain against the old time Fundamentalism they have abandoned, who haven't thought deeply about the ramifications of their actions.

continuing,
Instead he chose to support the status quo and got the flame war he asked for.

Like I wrote, I think it is clear the "flame war" was manufactured by those who have it in for John and don't like his views on this subject. He came in and kicked over their idols.

continuing,
John may say that using beverage alcohol is not a sin, but his message is that if you want to be a wise, mature, spiritual, and fruitful Christian you won't.

And I happen to agree with that sentiment. The Bible leans in that direction seeing that abuse of alcohol is spoken against way more than anything positive about it. There is an entire section in Proverbs warning against alcohol. Like I noted in my article, the Bible doesn't condemn slavery, either. So to take your comment here, "John may say that owning slaves is not a sin, but his message is that if you want to be a wise, mature, spiritual, and fruitful Christian, you won't." I would agree with that sentiment as well.

12:22 PM, September 09, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

Fred:

"And I happen to agree with that sentiment" Then why do you drink alcohol at all, ever?

I agree with much of what MacArthur says on alcohol up until the point where giving it up completely is a sign of Christian maturity.

I agree with your post, just not your last comment.

6:13 PM, September 15, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

subscribing

6:24 PM, September 15, 2011  

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