Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Not Given to Much Wine" and Abstaining from Alcohol

More controversy seems to exist than ever in churches over the drinking of alcoholic beverages. If I say it isn't a difficult subject, I'll be castigated, but I'm going to say it: "I don't think it is a difficult subject"---at least not until recently. We've got more permissible drinkers than ever in evangelical churches. I did a five part series on it not that long ago here at WIT, so what has me thinking about it again? I check in at the blogroll of a popular evangelical website, one of the 5 or 10 websites I check every day, mainly to look at the front page posting. I also look at the topics of the blogroll postings to see if anything interests me. I like to read. With that being said, I listened to most of this sermon by one of the preachers on that blogroll. At one point in his sermon, he referred to 1 Timothy 3 and this particular qualification of deacons: "not given to much wine." He didn't say much about the text, except that it was "ridiculous" that anyone would think that it wasn't permissible to drink "wine" in moderation, and all through this sermon he is referring to wine as alcoholic, essentially the one wine view, that "wine" is only alcoholic in Scripture.

I was preparing to write on it again, because of his "ridiculous" argument, argument by calling any other position but his own as "ridiculous." You've got to have a very sympathetic crowd to believe that level of argumentation. I wrote about it already, so I'm just going to link to my answer here. I don't think "ridiculous" should be tolerated by anyone as a suitable argument. Someone may say that he didn't have enough time to deal with all the passages sufficiency, and so "ridiculous" needed to suffice since it was such a no-brainer. I don't think so. Read my post on the subject. And you would do well to read all of them (number 1, number 2, number 3, number 4 too).

25 comments:

bhardecker said...

This is one of those...the Bible doesn't really directly say it is "a sin to drink some alcohol, therefore we should be careful in drinking it." As long as we drink with moderation then it is ok.
Consider:
1. Today's wine is very different from Bible wine (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
2. Moderation is not the point prohibition is. Example: just because a murderer moderately murders a number of people, doesn't make his sin and crime less sinful and criminal.
3. The sin is disobedience. God says not to even look at it, let alone, indulge in it - and here some say, Go ahead its ok - in direct contradiction to the Lord.

You wrote excellent articles on this topic PB. Holidays seem to be the time of year that people drink moderately (at least "conservative Evangelicals," Reformed, and even some sectarian/historical Fundamentalists). I have had my share of dinner table conversations with unsaved relatives, sipping their wine and asking why I don't drink. I wish I knew then what I know now. The fact that I didn't indulge (nor would I have wanted to anyway) places me in a position (and have been since) to be a faithful witness.

Claymore said...

What these people who like to excuse their sin do to excuse it boggles the mind. Anybody with the twentieth part of half a brain could see the effects of alcohol, even in moderation, on the body: things like sclerosis of the liver, the staggering and general disrespect that the drink causes, &c. I have never once heard of a man who was any the better for drinking: healthwise, familywise, or anywise. Rather, it becomes a lie, for they believe it will satisfy, and it follows the outline that James gave: sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death - in this case, not only a premature death of the pleasure it claimed to offer, but of the person who indulges also. Dr. Bob Jones used the example of a man who had been a drinker for years and then after being dry for years was suffering the effects of liquor in his body. If anybody can read what Charles Chinequey wrote on liquor in "50 years in the Church of Rome" he would be a teetotaler or else in denial. Since the body is the temple of God, we have no right to abuse it, and liquor, fornication, tobacco, rock music, &c are all abuses of the body.

David Gross said...

Just as the issue of music clearing up once a person admits it is not neutral, the wine issue clears up once a person admits that wine in the Bible times was NOT always alcoholic. I wrote a paper on this that may be of help to anyone else who thinks Pastor Brandenburg is the only one who believes this. He is not alone on this issue. God bless you.
http://baptistmissionary.info/The%20Juicy%20Truth%20of%20Biblical%20Wine.pdf

d4v34x said...

Some of these comments offer no more real argumentation than Anderson's passing "ridiculous" comment.

bhardecker's #2 is a false analogy. You have to work alot harder to find a scriptural prohibition of alcohol than you do to find one on murder- no "thou shalt not" and all.

Claymore's statement that about anyone with .025 a brain or more etc. essentially "argues" that anyone who doesn't agree with him is stupid or looking to excuse their sin (a priori fallacy).

bhardecker's #3 raises an interesting question about the photo that accompanies this post.

Mr. Gross makes an odd numeric appeal and an analogy to music, about which finding any Biblical prohibitions may be more difficult than finding one for alchohol.

And I'm an abstentionist, so I'm not looking to justify anything.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hey D4,

I'll deal with only your subtle point about the inclusion of my glass of ??? with grapes on the front. It crossed my mind before I used the picture, and I decided it was appropriate because you can't tell from looking at the picture what was in the glass. I knew someone could bring that up. I'm sure there's some logical fallacy involved with your unsupported conclusion, maybe the non sequitur argument by question where a false assumption is introduced by question. :-)

If you've read my material here, you've seen that there is an explicit command of "thou shalt not" quality in Proverbs 23 that prohibits alcohol.

Claymore said...

D4:

I notice that you fail to mention any of my points about what alcohol does to the body, or that one has no right to abuse it because of it being the temple of God, and because we are bought with a price and are the servants (doulos - one who possesses nothing, not even his life, save at his master's pleasure), and so have no right to do with the body as we please. I do not believe this is an a priori fallacy, for the evidence of the drink is clearly outlined by Chiniquey in his book.

Dmicah said...

Melchizedek drank wine and he was the priest of the most high God.
Part of Isaac's blessing on Jacob was that he have plenty of wine.
Wine was used in part of the drink offering.
The Nazarite vow was that a man separate himself from all forms of alcohol and strong drink and even vinegar. If God had prohibited alcohol from all of his followers, why would he need to specify this detail in the Nazarite vow?
Wine was part of a tithe to God.
Wine was given as a gift to kings.
Prophets gave out wine as a gift.
God gave wine to men to make their hearts glad.
One of the gifts of honoring the LORD are winepresses bursting forth with new wine.
Proverbs 20:1 is not even close to a prohibition against alcohol, but a warning of alcohol abuse. in other words, the main wisdom book is offering wisdom on consumption.
Jesus told a parable about the Father and the Son centered around a man who built a vineyard for profit.
Jesus turned water to wine after the people had been drinking awhile.
Jesus used wine in illustrations.
Paul said not to drink wine if it would offend a brother. This falls in line with the argument of the Nazarite vow. No need to make qualifiers if wine is prohibited.
Paul said not to be drunk, not to be overwhelmed and given to wine. Moderation
He told Timothy to drink wine.
Peter warned against the excess of wine, not the use of wine.

So, if you are going to discuss this matter from Scripture, you have to conclude that not only is wine not a prohibited drink, but it is used positively for and by God.
The ONLY argument to even be considered then is the type of alcohol described in Scripture. And to argue that it was not of similar alcoholic content is a stretch considering all of the folk who abused it in Scripture. Jesus himself described wine going through its process. It was obviously fermented wine that would make old wineskins burst.

My point is that Scriptures are the standard and from OT to NT, they present a different picture of wine than your articles.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B,

The question I intended was, "What's in the glass?". Sorry for implying or inciting any false assumptions on anyone's part.

Claymore,

You are correct; I did not address your equivocation, e.g. that any use = abuse. No one disputes the ill effects of inappropriate alcohol use, and the Apostle Paul affirms that there is an apropriate use, possibly beyond the pure medicinal.

David.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Before I get into any arguments re: the actual issue of drinking alcoholic beverages (will come later as I get the time), I would like to just make an initial observation: A lot of the typical Evangelical/"Young fundamentalist" arguments for "alcohol in moderation" stem from the entirely wrong approach to scripture. Their approach is one of interpreting the Bible in such a way as to be able to "skirt by" by the skin of their teeth into being able to do something questionable. The greater issue of holiness and what will please the Lord rarely seems to enter into the equation.

Chris Anderson said...

For the sake of accuracy, I said it would be ridiculous to think that Paul would require leaders not to drink much wineif indeed it was not fermented. You think he was saying not to drink much grape juice? Really? Why would he even mention it if there were no danger associated with it? Anyway, that's the only thing I said was ridiculous.

To say that I argued for moderation misrepresents the entire tone of the sermon, which concluded with fervent warnings.

My conclusion was this: while there is no biblical basis for forbidding alcohol, there is biblical basis for avoiding it. I made it clear throughout that I was not advocating drinking, but was laboring to be honest with the text.

Nevertheless, don't let that stop you. Feel free to use this as an example of your fidelity while the rest of us to to hell in a handbasket.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for coming on over. I would imagine that it was a difficult decision versus ignore this altogether and you acted more loving. Thanks.

I think the discussion is necessary and I would assume that you wouldn't believe that everyone is going to agree with your presentation. The way you preached it implied that. You argued against another belief about this. I didn't take the time to write down how you treated those who take my position, but it wasn't as though you were nice to us. You essentially were saying that men had not been honest with the scripture in the past, and now you were going to clear that all up by being the honest one. I don't think you came close to succeeding. I recognize that you were dealing with your church so it wasn't necessary for you to present the alternative plainly (two wine). You aren't standing on some high ground here with this regards, as you are making it seem. And you are not being persecuted at all---not even close. I didn't give your name and I linked to your sermon itself so someone could check it out. That's not someone misrepresenting you for sure.

You quoted the exact statement you made. Great. I'm really good with that. It doesn't change anything.

I got the general anti-drinking-alcohol tone of your sermon, going at it from the position of a liberty issue that could be a stumgling block, really warning people of the dangers. It smacks of something contradictory to how you dealt with the passages. When you broke them down, you were saying that Scripture says it's OK to drink alcohol. The way you dealt with the passages would lead one to believe that God encourages it. No one with your view that I've read or heard will say that there are no dangers to alcohol. You emphasized the dangers, but your message didn't prohibit alcohol. That's what was different about it and from your point of view, so scriptural.

Your argument from 1 Timothy 3 argues a straw man because it so dumbs down the other view that it makes it look, using your word "ridiculous." You don't deal with the actual argument. You probably don't need to with your crowd, or at least that's what it sounded like. Perhaps you can't count on anyone to check out what you say, which would be a better attitude to engender in your congregation---not in a rebellious way but in a Berean fashion.

Regarding whether "wine" in 1 Timothy 3 is alcohol, the two wine view explains it. Wineskins didn't come with labels. You couldn't know whether you were dealing with something alcoholic or non-alcoholic. This is something you didn't even deal with in your sermon, that I heard, that is, that the Bible doesn't have a word for alcohol. You just assumed that "wine" means "alcoholic" and that's that. Everyone would know it.

You didn't deal with a differing view on 1 Tim 3 such as Albert Barnes', who would be an obvious one to use. Should we jump to a statement sending Barnes to "hell in a handbasket." That's quite a jump from my short little post here, Chris, that we've got some kind of motive to assign you to hell at this point. How about just taking it as face value?

I got what you concluded from the sermon and I don't hear at all from you that it says, "Don't drink alcohol." Not at all. If you were saying that, it was a strange way of doing it. You show all the passages as wine as alcohol and many of them say "drink away," and you end with abuses of it and say that it's dangerous. You didn't say "don't drink." So what are thinking people left to conclude? You can't have it both ways. If you believe this is what the Bible teaches, then be happy about it. Don't be surprised that you'll get criticized from those who disagree. I get it all the time here. I'm fine with it.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Kent Brandenburg said...

DMicah,

Thanks for coming by again and putting so much time into your comment. That was a lot of work to type all that.

Regarding what you wrote, it doesn't deal with my view in the five posts I made. The question is, "What is 'wine' in Scripture?" I don't disagree that men drank "wine"? That would be ridiculous. But wine wasn't the same thing in all of these cases, and that seems to be the point you're making, and so you sound like you would be comfortable with a two-wine view, the only one that doesn't result in contradictions that Chris was faced with in his presentation. He tries to be anti-booze while saying that it's always booze in Scripture. He's got a bigger problem, IMO, then the I do with all the passages you wrote. I believe that God prohibited the Nazarites for the same reason he prohibited the pastor in 1 Tim 3. Not given to wine. Wine could be addictive so one needed to be careful. There weren't the quality controls in products that there are today. There were varying degrees of alcohol in wine from zero to something very alcholic. That's why passages seem to contradict. How can it be good to drink and then not good to drink. I believe this is where Prov 23 comes into play. We're commanded not to look on wine when it is alcoholic. That is when we shouldn't drink. Small degrees of fermentation are not what Prov 23 is talking about. It's talking about something one could get drunk with. It's a simple call. I can't help but think that men are making it more complex because they want to either drink or permit drinking alcohol.

d4v34x said...

Titus,

That's little more than a pot shot that again assumes that activity "x" is wrong a priori and some sort of liberty regarding it needs to be "ginned up". No pun intended. :^)

Chris Anderson said...

Kent,

I regret my comment for several reasons.

First, I've admitted that I've changed my thinking on this matter. I should show more grace to those who hold a position which was once my own.

Second, I preached a message on an admittedly controversial matter. I can hardly play the martyr when people disagree with me.

Finally, my last comment was snarky and mean-spirited and immature.

I apologize on all counts. Please forgive me.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Chris,

You are forgiven. I'm truly not persuaded by the Randy Jaeggli view. I read his book. I know him a little. He came to teach at Maranatha my last year in grad school there---I didn't have him in class, but I talked to him some one-on-one. I liked him and thought highly of his approach to dealing with the Bible with some exceptions. He didn't take historic Maranatha positions (and I'm not talking soteriology here), but he was teaching a way of exegesis and exposition that helped men with their preaching preparation, as far as what I could gather from hearing from men who did take his classes.

To men as myself, what seems to be a changing position on alcohol among a circle of men, also is a changing position on other areas. Are they really right and we've been wrong? I'd be fine with that if we were wrong and they were right positions. I don't see that. I've yet to hear a satisfactory answer on this issue on Proverbs 23, for instance. What I hear the most is that men are just grasping at anything to take a prohibition position, but not the dealing with the passages. Jaeggli doesn't deal with Prov 23 very much in his booklet.

Anyway, thanks again. No hard feelings.

Bobby said...

I've enjoyed reading the post and the discussion. It is refreshing to see someone admit wrong and ask for forgiveness on a blog.

Lance Ketchum said...

An important aspect of this discussion is the Priesthood of the Believer. Very few people ever address it in the context of the drinking in moderation (getting just a little intoxicated) argument.
http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/PDFFiles/Should%20Christians%20Drink%20Alcohol%5B1%5D.pdf

Gary Webb said...

To all,
For what it is worth - even if the Bible did teach the moderation view - it also forbids the moderation view in the teaching on Christian liberty. No one has any liberty in Christ to be a stumbling block by drinking intoxicating beverages - especially before those who were saved out of its enslaving & damning powers: Romans 14:21.

Claymore said...

For what it is worth: man was created in the image of God - as such, he has a high dignity. Drinking has with it a great deal of shame - that is why pubs are dimly lit - to use darkness as a cloak for sins. The first instance of man drinking alcohol (before the flood, conditions on earth did not favour fermentation which must be within four degrees of an exact temperature to occur), had with it the heating of the body to the extent that the drinker was uncovered - bringing shame to himself. There is nothing dignified in a man disrobed as Noah was, helpless to be killed easier as Benhadad, or staggering and swaying like a mortally-wounded stag or ship tossed by a storm.

To those who may think it alright to drink moderately - define "moderation" - is it compared to Alexander the Great, who tried to empty the Hercules Cup (containing six skins of wine) which ultimately killed him? Joe Pireli thought he knew when to quit, and he became a derelict because of taking the moderate drink - ultimately God saved his soul, and he never touched liquors again. Bob Jones University put out a film about him once - it would be good for those who believe moderate drinking to be excused in Scripture to see it.

BTW: the metaphor that somebody mentioned about pouring new wine into old bottles does not endorse drinking at all - those who try to read an endorsement into it are doing just that: reading it into the text. There is nothing in the text or context that allows for it.

Barb said...

I am not a drinker, nor do I have a desire to be. But I have questions. I have heard people many times say that the wine in the Bible is different, but they never say how it is different. What is the seceret? When Jesus turned the water into wine, the master of the banquet said (paraphrasing here) everyone usually saves the cheap wine for last after the guest get to feeling good and won't notice. Grape juice wouldn't do that. In another place the Bible says that John was maligned for eating his diet and not drinking, yet Jesus was attacked as a glutton and a wine bibber. I do not think for one second that Jesus was ever drunk or even close to it, He is perfect, why would they have had a problem with him overdoing the grape juice? And no group of people has ever been that crazy over grape juice. I really like Welche's grape juice, but hey I can only handle so much. I am not trying to justify or vilify anything just trying to figure out what is right, the truth not wrapped up in worldy wrangling or choked by religious dogma.

Nicholas82555 said...

This is one of my favorite subjects because we want to call something "a sin" and yet cannot soundly justify it except it being a personal call when the bible gives us the answer. First and foremost my comments are not meant to argued but "to reason". There are many hazards we take into our bodies and yet some we adhere to and some we ignore. All I'm going to say is if ppl are so die hard on "smoking-in general) being a sin..Why is it we don't talk about gluttony or drinking sodas. Do a study on sodas and it's appeal to the taste and you'll find it's just as dangerous or ever the more than smoking but we won't attack it with the aggressiveness. Just an observation. All in all, it's you're call and it's between you and your Jesus. God delievered us from Egypt but man is constantly trying to send us back.

Barry X said...

Barb,
Concerning the water into wine issue and the questioning of the guests as to why the best wine was saved for last. The "First pressing's" are the purest form and untainted by any type of fermentation and were historically considered the best "wine". In translation the word "wine" was used in every instance relating to wine, fruit of the vine,juice from grapes, etc...
Because the word wine is used, it in no way gives credence to the acceptance of fermented "wine". That would be the equivalent of saying that when you say "I love you" to your spouse that you mean it exactly the same way to your child, your parent, your friend, etc...
Ultimately these issues are resolved between oneself and God.

Dan Knezacek said...

I come from a Baptist family where "the end justifies the means". In this case the end being to prevent people from getting drunk. Thus it is OK to add to Scripture to prevent sin.
To a large segment of Christendom Scripture twisting is practised to prevent sin, and the command not to add to, or take away from, Scripture is disobeyed!

There was a word in the ancient Greek "trux" which means grape juice, or must. This is a word that does show up in documents contemporary with the New Testament. This word is not used in the New Testament because this is not what Jesus and His disciples were drinking!

Jesus said in Mark 7:15
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

Some would accuse me of taking this out of context, but the word "nothing" is an all-encompassing word that covers everything, including wine and alcohol!

The bottom line is this; do you think it is OK to add to Scripture (sin) to prevent people from sinning?

Are you saying that I can't understand Scripture by reading the plain text and believing what I read there? Do I have to come to you to get a proper understanding of Scripture? I am asking this of Kent and all of you posters who agree with him on this.

If this is what you are saying, then it elevates you to the position of Interpreter of Scripture, a position that I thought was reserved for the Holy Spirit!

LC Bogard III said...

I am no more or less a Christian than any of you. I always called Christians hypocrites until one night I went to bed one way and literally woke up the next day as a Born Again Christian. You see I had never read the Holy Bible and I was 48. I was Born Again in June of 2011. I HAD BEEN BAPTISED THREE TIMES and if I had passed/died, I would have never entered heaven for you I tell you the truth - must be born again to enter heaven.

So hear this: we are all equals and not anything placed upon this earth as food by my Lord is bad, unless you believe it is bad. That is your right to force your opinion upon others for if you do, you have then surely commited a grave sin. I say as Paul once said that it is not your right to debate (judge) on any subject such as this as I do speak for Paul who spoke for the LORD. Any who do debate, does judge and may cause his brother to stumble. Stop it and accept one another in Christ as equals for Paul clarified all such issues and especially the one you have just been debating. Paul was an instrument of Jesus Christ and as such spoke for Jesus Christ.

Stop hurting each others feeling for love is the way. Stop being caught up in trivial matters. Why is the church still killing Jesus Christ. By promoting such debates we are causing his seeking and lost children to stumble; feel guilty and many times turn from the Father for they do know in their hearts that we are not right nor wise in Christ. They thne justify their actions based upon our transgressions for we too have then have sinned. They are not wise enough and/or the truth has not yet been revealed to them and even many of you. My Father warned us all that if we cause HIS children and other brothers in Christ to stumble that we might as well hang a millstone around our necks and jump in to the deepest part of the sea.

I must admit that seeing you debate such an issue did cause me pain, but I and those who have sent me do understand your love for my Father. I love you all; have written to you all in love and please start refering your brothers and sisters in Christ back to Paul and you will have then done a great thing out of love and the church will not fracture nor the gates of hell will never prevail against the true church of Jesus Christ......and please pay attention to verse 21 below:

Romans 14 King James Version (KJV)

20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Papou ForSeven said...

I was reading comments and there appeared to be confusion about Prov 23. Based on my study the reference to wine in this verse is, "Mesek, “a mixture,” mixed or spiced wine, not diluted with water, but mixed with drugs and spices to increase its strength, or, as some think, mingled with the lees by being shaken." taken from Hebrew. This would also helps explain the complete passage that talks about when it "moveth itself aright" (KJV). A fermented wine does not move, something must be added to cause that to happen. Just to make it clear, I'm no bible scholar, just someone that was trying to search the scriptures on this issue that is why I said my study.