Friday, August 11, 2006

My Last Word on the Alcohol Resolution (Hopefully)

On his blog Ben Cole has posted a transcript from Albert Mohler's radio program of Mohler's response to a question about alcohol. Of all the statements about this issue that I have seen from SBC leaders, Mohler's is by far the most reasonable. In fact, I agree with some of what he says. For example:

And yet I will tell you up front that I know there are believing, faithful Christians who enjoy a glass of wine or do drink some beverage alcohol. And I cannot say in all persons in all circumstances it is sin for them as Christians to do that. There's no verse in the Bible that says 'thou shalt not drink alcoholic beverage, period.' So intellectual honesty...demands that we say there's no proof text in the Bible that says thou shalt not ever drink an alcoholic beverage.
Mohler concedes that the Bible does not forbid the drinking of alcohol, BUT... (you knew there was a "but" coming):
I just have to say I believe the safest position for a Christian is total abstinence...I belong to a church and denomination, and I serve as president of an institution that before God believes that the best position to hold is a total-abstinence position, in accountability to other Christians, and in accountability to the churches.
I have no problem with Mohler believing that total abstinence is the "safest position" for a Christian. He is entitled to his personal views based on his own understanding of Scripture, history, and culture. In fact, I personally agree that total abstinence is the best choice for a person (not just a Christian) to make. Where I disagree with Mohler is over the propriety of any church, denomination, or institution that would presume to tell a believer which choice he or she should make regarding alcohol. Remember, Mohler has already acknowledged that the Bible does not forbid the drinking of alcohol. So on the basis of what authority does Southern Seminary forbid the drinking of alcohol? Upon what authority does FBC Anytown rely for requiring its members to abstain totally from alcohol? Upon what authority does the Southern Baptist Convention base its resolution against the use of alcohol? Do we look to the Bible as our authority in matters of faith and practice, or do we look to human reasoning, interpretation, and tradition to supplement the Bible?

In the absence of any biblical prohibition against the drinking of alcohol, we have no right to require that others abstain or to condemn the use of alcohol by others. We may study the biblical statements about alcohol, the historical context, and our own cultural context and conclude that abstinence is the best position, but it is not up to us to do the Holy Spirit's job in the lives of other believers. We can try to persuade others that our view is correct, but we cannot try to govern their beliefs or actions apart from clear biblical teaching. As a rule of thumb, anytime we find ourselves saying, "There is no biblical statement or principle that clearly forbids _________, but..." we should allow others to make their own decision about the issue and not look down on them as being less of a Christian than we are if they make a different decision than we do.


GuyMuse said... is not up to us to do the Holy Spirit's job in the lives of other believers..."

That statement pretty much sums up the whole subject for me. Too often we confuse our assigned role of going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching, with the role of the H.S. Let's do what we are supposed to do, and let God do what only He can do in the life and heart of his children.

Vic said...

Alcoholism accounts for less than 7% of the American public, Gluttony (obesity) accounts for 60% of the American public. IF we are going to draft a resolution, lets address one that effects 60% of all believers and non believers,that is directly scripture addressed as a "NO" in the bible.

Gluttony seems to be something that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins...but for some reason gluttony is accepted or tolerated. Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette, but have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table to the point that they feel like they are going to explode. This should not be! Especially when obesity now affects nearly two thirds of our population, and is a much bigger problem for believers and non believers than alcohol itself.

Proverbs 23:20-21 warns us, "Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." Proverbs 28:7 declares, "He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father." Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, "put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony."

Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger), and unable to keep our mouth from gossip or negativ natures . We are not to let our appetites control us, but rather we are to have control over our appetites. See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and 2 Corinthians 10:5. God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and even pleasurable. We should honor God's creation by enjoying these foods, and by eating them in appropriate quantities.

Perhaps this resolution needs the following amendments? .........

WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that obesity/gluttony leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage and death (e.g., Proverbs 23:; and

WHEREAS, Obesity and gluttony use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways, and at home, in the work place and at at church and on the mission field; and

WHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to Obesity by one or more members of a family that died as a direct result of obesity ; and

WHEREAS, The use of junk food and non healthy nutrious products that causes obesity as a recreational substance has been shown to lead individuals down a path of diebetes, heart dieses, and other great health risks; and

WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of junk food and non nutrional food based on a misinterpretation of
"well gluttony cant be as bad as smoking and drinking"

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of junk food and harmful food products

RESOLVED, That we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is obese (40 pounds or more overweight)

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb diets that cause so much harm to our bretheren; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of obesity and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat obesity problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence of poor nutrition habits and encourage local churches to begin and/or address this biblically-based issue that is directly addressed in scriptures as a sin.