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.