The True Gladness of Wine

Tags 

The debate over whether Christians ought to consume alcohol is not only an old one but, on the Web at least, a tired one. Much of the tiredness, though, is due to an excess of passion and a shortage of precision. Quarreling has been abundant and arguing scarce. I hope to contribute a bit here to the argument rather than the quarrel.

One example of arguing rather than quarreling dates back to the spring of 2006. I gather that Bob Bixby posted a case against the use of alcoholic beverages by Christians.1 Bob Hayton responded, in part, with an essay entitled “Wine to Gladden the Heart of Man”: Thoughts on God’s Good Gift of Wine. In the essay, Bob Hayton argues not only that “God gave us wine to bring us joy,” but also that the joy He had in mind is an effect of wine’s alcohol specifically.

Speaking of Judges 9:13, Ecclesiastes 10:19, and Zechariah 10:7, Bob observes:

It should be clear that even the intoxicating nature of wine is being praised, here. Wine lifts the spirit and gladdens the heart long before it actually overtakes you and makes one drunk. Wine can be enjoyed and its effects relished without losing control and becoming drunken.

This theme runs through the eight points that form the main structure of the essay. Following the eight points, a section focuses on counterarguments related to the biblical warnings against wine and the use of weaker brother passages. Though Bob wrote the post some years ago, I became aware of it during a discussion here at SI last year and pledged to write a response sometime. Here it is.

A little perspective

Before I delve into the particulars, a bit of framing. First, I believe that the decision to use (non-medicinal) alcohol judiciously or to abstain from it completely is a matter of conscience. Believers must apply the Scriptures and be fully persuaded in their own minds (Rom. 14:5) and must not despise one another (Rom. 14:3, 10) for arriving at different conclusions.

That said, matters of conscience (or liberty) are not matters we should avoid discussing or examining carefully.2 We owe it to our Lord, ourselves, and one another to have a conscience that is as clearly and truthfully informed as possible.

So it’s in that spirit that I’m going to try to upend the argument in Bob’s essay. I have the highest regard for him and for many of those who share his views on this question.

The eight points

In support of the idea that wine is God’s gift and we should enjoy it (the effect of its alcohol in particular), the essay offers eight points with supporting Scriptures:

  1. Wine is a gift of the goodness of God (Jer. 31:12-4, Ps. 104:14-15, 1 Tim.4:1-5).
  2. Wine produces joy—it “gladdens the heart” (Judg. 9:13, Ecc. 10:19 NASB, Zech. 10:7. See also Prov. 31:6-7, Jer. 16:7-8).
  3. Wine is used in rejoicing before God (Deut. 14:22-26, Isa. 62:8-9, Deut. 12:17-19. See also use of wine in drink offerings: Ex. 29:40, Num. 15:5, 2 Chron. 31:5, Deut. 8:4).
  4. Abundance of wine is a particular blessing from God (Joel 2:24-26, 3:18; Gen. 27:28; Deut. 7:13).
  5. Having no wine was a hardship or a judgment of God (Amos 5:11, Deut. 29:2-6. See also Deut. 18:39, Mic. 6:15, Zeph. 1:13).
  6. The absence of wine results in the absence of joy (Isa. 24:7-11, Jer. 48:33, Is. 16:10).
  7. Drinking wine is singularly festive, joyful, and celebratory (Ecc. 9:7, Isa. 22:13, Job 1:13, Esther 1, 1 Chron. 12:39ff, Gen 27:25 and several others).
  8. Wine will be part of the future feasting in Christ’s kingdom (Isa. 25:6-9, Jer. 31:12-14, Matt. 26:29, Luke 22:28-30, Matt. 8:11, Luke 13:29, etc.).

Points of agreement and contention

The crux of this particular debate is really not the eight points themselves but whether they truly support the thesis. Isolated from a particular conclusion, seven of the eight points are solid and well supported by Scripture. (Point six should probably be merged with point five since the passages listed there do not indicate a cause-effect relationship.)

But the argument as a whole hinges on a particular definition of “wine” and a particular view of wine’s relationship to one of its usual ingredients (alcohol). Since the pro-wine position needs to argue that fruit of the vine without alcohol is not a suitable modern-day substitute, it must attribute the blessings of wine to alcohol specifically. The thesis, then, is effectively that alcohol is a blessing God gave us to make us glad. Most advocates of the judicious use of wine maintain that if there is no alcohol, the beverage simply isn’t wine.

This is my main point of contention: Where passages do not clearly indicate the effects of intoxication (whether slight or severe), “wine” cannot be used validly as a synonym for “alcohol.”

The old non-alcoholic wine argument

At this point, I’m sure some have got me pigeon-holed as a proponent of the old “Christian people drank non-alcoholic wine” argument. But this is not where I’m going. I believe God’s people consumed wine with alcohol on a regular basis.

But does it follow that if wine usually contained alcohol, every statement in Scripture extolling wine is also extolling alcohol? A closer look at some of the passages Bob uses in his essay suggests an answer.

But the vine said to them, “Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?” (NKJV, Judg. 9:13)

Here, the “wine” cheers both God and men. Presumably, it cheers them both in a similar way—but how would God experience the cheer that comes from the early stages of intoxication? Since God is a spirit, the cheer in this passage is evidently not directly related to any ingredient the wine contains—and doesn’t even depend on drinking it. (Arguably, we could take this as a reference to God incarnate physically enjoying wine, but it seems less strained to see the cheer here as referring to the gladness of witnessing an abundant harvest.)

Joy and gladness are taken
From the plentiful field
And from the land of Moab;
I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses;
No one will tread with joyous shouting—
Not joyous shouting! (Jer. 48:33)

Gladness is taken away,
And joy from the plentiful field;
In the vineyards there will be no singing,
Nor will there be shouting;
No treaders will tread out wine in the presses;
I have made their shouting cease. (Isa. 16:10)

Consider this: how much alcohol does the “wine” in these verses contain? Here the term refers to the product of the press at the time it comes from the press—a liquid containing no alcohol at all. This use of “wine” in reference to the not-yet-fermented fruit of the vine is not unique. In Jeremiah 40:10 and 12 “wine” is what is “gathered.” In Amos 9:13, “wine” is what the mountains are dripping with. In Haggai 2:16, “wine” is still in the vat, and in Isaiah 65:8 the substance is “wine” even while still in the cluster!

Though it’s true (as far as I can tell) that wine was nearly always consumed with alcohol in it, the evidence does not support using “wine” as a synonym for “alcohol,” nor may we treat alcohol as an essential attribute. We can’t assume that all references to “wine” say something meaningful about alcohol in particular.

The real gladness

If we accept that “wine” does not refer to alcohol specifically, or even consistently to a beverage containing alcohol, we’re free to look at the wine-and-gladness passages with more openness and to allow the context to carry more weight in understanding what each reference reveals.

What that look reveals is that most of the passages which associate wine with gladness are about the gladness of physical nourishment or refreshment, the gladness of abundant harvest or the gladness of God’s blessing in general (many of these passages associate cheer with food as well in the same context). Most of the passages that associate lack of wine with sorrow are really about famine and loss due to God’s judgment. Few of these passages are actually about wine. Nearly all refer to it in service to some larger point.

The table below classifies all of the primary texts from Bob’s essay, and most of the secondary ones as well. (Some passages could be classified under more than one heading.)

Passages associating wine with the gladness of abundant harvest or God’s blessing in general

Jeremiah 31:12-14, Deuteronomy 14:22-26, Zechariah 10:7, Judges 9:13, Isaiah 25:6-9, Isaiah 62:8-9

Passages associating wine with the gladness of nourishment or the pleasure of eating and drinking

Psalm 104:14-15, Ecclesiastes 10:19

Passages associating lack of wine with the sorrow of meager harvest or loss of God’s blessing in general (judgment)

Amos 5:11, Deuteronomy 29:2-6, Deuteronomy 28:39, Micah 6:15, Zephaniah 1:13, Isaiah 24:7-11, Jeremiah 48:33, Isaiah 16:10

Passages associating wine with gladness vaguely (specific reference to intoxicating property not clear, but possible)

Ecclesiastes 9:7, Isaiah 22:13, Song of Solomon 1:2-3, 4:10 (and others in Song of Solomon)

Passages not associating wine with gladness (mostly with other items representative of God’s provision and grace)

Exodus 29:40, Numbers 15:5, 2 Chronicles 31:5, Deuteronomy 12:17-19, Joel 2:24-26, Joel 3:18, Genesis 27:28, Deuteronomy 7:13, Matthew 26:29 (and Luke 22:17, 20), 1 Corinthians 11:21

Passages simply indicating that wine was consumed along with food, mostly on some special occasion

Job 1:13, Esther 1:7, 1 Chronicles 12:39-40, Genesis 27:25, Luke 7:33-34

Passages referring to medicinal use of wine

Proverbs 31:6-7

Passages that do not mention wine but would fit under one of the other headings if wine is assumed

1 Timothy 4:1-5, Luke 13:29, Luke 22:28-30, Matthew 8:11

Since the gladness and cheer in these passages do not depend specifically on the presence of alcohol, those who enjoy the fresh juice of the grape (or of the grapefruit, for that matter) cannot be accurately characterized as rejecting the blessing of “wine” or of missing out on the biblical gladness it brings.

Notes

1 Bixby’s post appears to be no longer available.

2 I also do not believe there is any reason that congregations may not agree together on some matters of conscience/liberty that they deem to have special importance and include these convictions as part of their membership standard.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Silliness

Lee wrote:

In the meantime, while we're waiting on these divine changes to holy writ, let's set aside the silliness and discuss the matter at hand which requires no new revelation.

Lee wrote:

Great, as if I don't have enough weddings to attend, now I'll get invitations from all sorts to attend their boozing ceremony where they covenant under God to become one with a bottle till death do them part.

Didn't take long to set aside silliness did it?

dmicah's picture
Offline
Since 6/15/09 18:29:47
195 posts
silliness

silliness is diverting a solid argument b/c there's no rebuttal.
emotion says, "It's bad. Look at the damage it's caused. Therefore, despite what Scripture says, use experiences to create doctrine."

a few of God's gifts

spouse
nature
sexual relations
food
non-marital companionship
alcoholic beverages

each is to be enjoyed within context and biblical parameters.
each can be abused, mistreated, become idols, create addictions, etc. outside of context and biblical parameters. But abuse and misuse comes from humanity and our hearts, not the element of the gift.

Offline
Since 6/2/09 15:36:47
145 posts
Back to Aaron's point

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Quote:
Even though I feel Christians should abstain, I don't think we can argue against the fact the "wine" referred to in "maketh the heart glad" was free of alcohol. I don't know of people noting their happiness after drinking just grape juice.

This is not quite what I'm claiming. Nonetheless, look at the Scriptures in the table. The gladness is usually in the context of both food and drink and quite often in the context of abundant harvest in general. There is simply not an example among these verses where the gladness is clearly of the unique sort generated by early-stage intoxication.

Bob wrote:
Proposition 1: Scripture connects drunkenness with "making merry", having "merry hearts" and "shouts of joy".
Scriptures that illustrate this: Judges 16:25, 1 Sam. 25:36, 2 Sam. 13:28, Esther 1:10, Eccl. 2:3, Jeremiah 51:39, Zech. 10:7. Note especially 1 Sam. 25:36: "Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk" (emphasis added)

Proposition 2: Scripture praises wine for its ability to give joy (without any disclaimer that certain levels of enjoyment and heights of happiness are out of bounds).
Scriptures that illustrate this: Judges 9:13, Ps. 104:15, Eccl. 9:7, Eccl. 10:19, (and other references that fit in with the 8 points I originally made, see the list in Aaron's post).

Conclusion: The nature of wine that makes it able to produce joy (i.e. the intoxicating effects of wine as a substance), is a God-ordained, good thing.


The reasoning here is not valid.
X has quality A
Y is praised for having quality A
Therefore, Y is good only because it's like X

I'm having trouble seeing how this conclusion can flow from these premises--even if the joy and gladness in the two premises are assumed to be identical in kind (which has not been demonstrated).

About a lot of the other comments... I was pretty sure this thread would not stay all that focused on the topic of the OP. People are passionate about these matters, and for reasons that are not hard to imagine.
But to clarify: I haven't attempted to make a case here for abstinence (another day, maybe). My aim was much smaller: to make a case against some kind of unique virtue in the alcohol in wine. (The biblical references to "strong drink"/"beer" etc. are also another study entirely)

So, just to bring some distinctions in to focus. These are all different positions:
a. We should drink wine because it has alcohol in it and the Scriptures indicate that alcohol-generated cheer is God's gift to us.
b. Drinking wine is permissible since (nearly) everyone in ancient times did and only drunkenness is condemned... but even getting a bit happy due to the effects of alcohol is wrong.
c. Drinking wine is permissible and getting a bit happy due to the effects of alcohol is OK because it is not drunkenness, but there is no biblical call to specifically enjoy the effects of alcohol.
d. Drinking wine is not permissible because believers drank non-alcoholic wine
e. Drinking wine is not permissible because the wine of ancient times was usually more more diluted than the wine of today
f. Drinking wine is not permissible because of the dangers involved and the complete absence of any need to do so

I'm sure several other variants exist. I'm just listing these to help folks avoid lumping views together that are really not the same.

It is important in this discussion to get back to Aaron's question: Is alcohol the ONLY reason wine is praised and said to bring joy. If alcohol is the reason, then it would follow that the more alcohol % contained in the wine, the better it is. Or, without alcohol, there would be no rejoicing.

This discussion has touched on the difference between today's wine and the wine of the ancient middle east. I think we need to go farther with that part of the discussion to understand the part that the vine, grapes, and wine played in that day. Today if we want to eat or drink we can go to the nearest "food warehouse" and buy from a seemingly unlimited assortment of food and drink. You don't like corn flakes - buy raisin bran. You don't want to drink Pepsi - get Coke or RC Cola. Etc. Etc. The assortment, availability and ease of getting food and drink was not something that people of that day experienced - and this is true of the third world today.

In Bible times there were very few kinds of food stuffs available to the people and their economy was based on growing olive trees, grape vines, and wheat. I have lived in two different third world countries since 1986 and I believe that the experience of seeing the rejoicing at a good rice harvest is similar to what the Bible is talking about. In my "home" country most years they go through what they call "hungry time" when then their last rice is used up and they must wait till the next harvest - which comes with great rejoicing and singing. Now, imagine living in a hot dry country waiting for the grape harvest - and the celebration at finally drinking the fresh juice from the grape after having only water or "old" wine (or wine paste) for a number of weeks or months.

In this, I am not arguing about the % of alcohol in the "wine" - I just agree with Aaron that it is not logical to assume that the ONLY reason people rejoiced over a good cup of "wine" was because of its alcohol content.

When we lived in the Ivory Coast during Liberian's civil war, we were able to shop at grocery stores in Abidjan, but 99% of the goods were from Europe and we used to crave some good American products. When things improved in Liberia we were able to make trips into Liberia and many times we went with of list of special foods we were to buy for the missionaries we worked with in the Ivory Coast. I still remember one of the first times when we arrived in Monrovia, shopped at the grocery store, and went to the guest house to have a meal of barbecue sloppy Joes (Manwich!), Barbecue baked beans, and A&W root beer (non-alcoholic! ;-). Both my heart and my mouth rejoiced and praised God that day because of the meal - and this obviously involved no alcohol. Biggrin

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Offline
Since 6/14/11 21:09:35
380 posts
Shaynus wrote: ...Didn't take

Shaynus wrote:
...Didn't take long to set aside silliness did it?

Hey, you're the one that's postulating that "sporting with" the bride and knocking back a shot of tequila are Scriptural equals. Not thinking that dog'll hunt for anybody but you. Just sayin'.....

Lee

JNoël's picture
Offline
Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
75 posts
Gifts, Liberty, and The Fall

dmicah wrote:
a few of God's gifts

spouse
nature
sexual relations
food
non-marital companionship
alcoholic beverages

each is to be enjoyed within context and biblical parameters.
each can be abused, mistreated, become idols, create addictions, etc. outside of context and biblical parameters. But abuse and misuse comes from humanity and our hearts, not the element of the gift.

You have to read into scripture to say that consumption of alcoholic beverages is a gift from God. I could say that yeast is a result of God's curse, that it didn't exist before the fall, that crushed grapes would never have fermented into something that is toxic to the human body. I have to read into that, of course, because the Bible doesn't tell us what, specifically happened to Creation at the fall. There are plenty of naturally occurring phenomena that are unhealthy to humanity; some were probably created, and some probably developed after the Fall.

After chewing on this a bit, I'm beginning to question whether or not consumption of alcohol really is a liberty issue. Reading through the section in I Cor 8 and following, Paul deals with the issue using an item that has no moral value - good or bad, it was just a piece of meat. It had an external cultural stigma in that it was offered to idols, but it was still just a piece of meat. The Bible never warns against eating meat (not including the OT law prohibitions, of course). Meat itself is a neutral substance. But there are many passages that warn against alcohol consumption, and those of you who condone it seem to approach it as more than just a liberty issue, but actually as a moral, virtuous thing, a blessing from God, that the rest of us are missing out on. And I think this speaks to Aaron's original point, which was the question of whether alcohol actually has inherent virtue. If it does, then this really is not a Christian Liberty issue, but, rather, something that somehow Christians have missed for generations (centuries?) or was somehow lost and is being rediscovered as a blessing we've all been missing out on all this time.

Boy, it would have been so much easier if Paul's letter to the church at Corinth dealt with alcoholic beverages rather than meat offered to idols. Smile

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Bad form

Lee wrote:
Shaynus wrote:
...Didn't take long to set aside silliness did it?

Hey, you're the one that's postulating that "sporting with" the bride and knocking back a shot of tequila are Scriptural equals. Not thinking that dog'll hunt for anybody but you. Just sayin'.....

What do you mean by Scriptural equals? I don't think we mean the same thing. I would say knocking back a shot of tequila normal intends with it drunkenness.

Note that you have to go to the most extreme, silly rhetorical flourish (tipping me off that you're making an argument from emotion rather than reason) just after chiding people for silliness when they're making a formal argument. Bad form sir. Bad form.

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
JNoël wrote: dmicah wrote: a

JNoël wrote:
dmicah wrote:
a few of God's gifts

spouse
nature
sexual relations
food
non-marital companionship
alcoholic beverages

each is to be enjoyed within context and biblical parameters.
each can be abused, mistreated, become idols, create addictions, etc. outside of context and biblical parameters. But abuse and misuse comes from humanity and our hearts, not the element of the gift.

You have to read into scripture to say that consumption of alcoholic beverages is a gift from God. I could say that yeast is a result of God's curse, that it didn't exist before the fall, that crushed grapes would never have fermented into something that is toxic to the human body. I have to read into that, of course, because the Bible doesn't tell us what, specifically happened to Creation at the fall. There are plenty of naturally occurring phenomena that are unhealthy to humanity; some were probably created, and some probably developed after the Fall.

After chewing on this a bit, I'm beginning to question whether or not consumption of alcohol really is a liberty issue. Reading through the section in I Cor 8 and following, Paul deals with the issue using an item that has no moral value - good or bad, it was just a piece of meat. It had an external cultural stigma in that it was offered to idols, but it was still just a piece of meat. The Bible never warns against eating meat (not including the OT law prohibitions, of course). Meat itself is a neutral substance. But there are many passages that warn against alcohol consumption, and those of you who condone it seem to approach it as more than just a liberty issue, but actually as a moral, virtuous thing, a blessing from God, that the rest of us are missing out on. And I think this speaks to Aaron's original point, which was the question of whether alcohol actually has inherent virtue. If it does, then this really is not a Christian Liberty issue, but, rather, something that somehow Christians have missed for generations (centuries?) or was somehow lost and is being rediscovered as a blessing we've all been missing out on all this time.

Boy, it would have been so much easier if Paul's letter to the church at Corinth dealt with alcoholic beverages rather than meat offered to idols. Smile

Meat and wine will remain in the new heavens and new earth. They are not something that was created to be destroyed, or even bad parts of the fall.

Quote:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

(Isaiah 25:6 ESV)

Offline
Since 6/4/09 09:20:01
344 posts
gift of God?

JNoël wrote:
You have to read into scripture to say that consumption of alcoholic beverages is a gift from God.
come back after you've read psalm 104

JNoël's picture
Offline
Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
75 posts
Assignment Complete

ChrisC wrote:
JNoël wrote:
You have to read into scripture to say that consumption of alcoholic beverages is a gift from God.
come back after you've read psalm 104

And that Psalm can be argued against with any number of other passages. I'll leave the interpretational issue to all of you scholars out there, as it is clear that even the greatest and most well-known commentators disagree on the appropriate application of passages like Psalm 104 and Isaiah 25:6.

This is where I sit back and listen. Thank you all for the respectful dialog.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
MShep2 wrote: In this, I am

MShep2 wrote:

In this, I am not arguing about the % of alcohol in the "wine" - I just agree with Aaron that it is not logical to assume that the ONLY reason people rejoiced over a good cup of "wine" was because of its alcohol content.

So. . . here's a question why don't we use the RC Cola you mentioned at communion? I would be fine with wine myself at the Lord's Table, but for reasons involving weaker brothers and conscience we use grape juice. The reason we stick as close as possible to wine is partly that it is symbolic of blood and wrath as well as joy. Blood and wrath poured out for our salvation, which causes joy. Wine was God's idea. He knew before the foundation of the world that the human race would misuse his creation of grapes and wine and alcohol, but still he chose in his wisdom not only to go ahead with the creation of it, but made it a central symbol for us of His salvation of us. I do think the alcohol adds to the imagery God was trying to get across. It burns a little as it goes down. Alcoholic wine has dregs, often mentioned in tandem with the passages dealing with the wrath of God and drinking down to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lees_(fermentation) ]dregs or lees as an unpleasant experience after finishing. As mentioned before, the alcohol does create a warmth or joy.

I would take the imagery of wine as a whole as well. It's not just about the alcohol, but the imagery works better when alcohol is present. The image is far deeper and fuller than the alcohol because it's a dual symbol of wrath and joy: just like the death of Christ.

dmicah's picture
Offline
Since 6/15/09 18:29:47
195 posts
it's been fun

guys, thanks for the fun dialogue. Aaron...good thoughts. i'm bowing out. i feel liking we're on a little merry go round.

God bless,
mp

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7432 posts
The trouble with analogies

Arguing by analogy is always dicey. For it to work, you have to have enough similarity between analog and original that people can see the connection--but you also need enough dissimilarity between analog and original that people are freed up from assumptions/biases that are making the original unclear to them.

So analogies often fail on one end or the other. A third way they fail is by not being similar in a way, on balance, that is relevant to the question/point.

We're afield a ways from the focus of the essay, but I'm interested in doing more writing on the topic eventually so... a bit of thinking out loud.
Several analogies appear in the thread in order to make certain points. A couple that stand out:

  • Alcohol is like sex - both potentially addictive, damaging outside of proper boundaries. Ergo, they should both be used judiciously.
  • Alcohol is like salt - both are "toxic" in large quantities but not harmful in smaller quantities. Ergo, they should both be used in moderation.

The first analogy is indeed similar on those points. But the dissimilarities lead me to wonder if we can really find similarity that is relevant to the question.

  • Alcohol is unlike sex - the former is a substance, the latter an activity.
  • The former can result in chemical addiction while the latter cannot.
  • Sex has a designed-in role as a feature of the fundamental unit of society (the family) as well as a major uniting factor in the relationship (marriage) intended to picture the relationship of Christ with His church.

Whether these differences matter depends on what point you're trying to make with the analogy. If the point is "both should be used/experienced carefully," who disagrees with that? I know of no one who believes alcohol cannot be used well medicinally. So the question in this case is not really "Are sex and alcohol similar?" but "What constitutes wise use of each?" At that point, the analogy declines rapidly in usefulness because we have very specific boundaries for sex and the whole debate for alcohol is what the boundaries of its use ought to be in our times based on biblical principles.

In both analogies, a point of similarity some have emphasized is potential for harm. The best way to analyze similarity and dissimilarity on that point is to look at it in terms of risk-benefit ratio. So to really work the analogy, you have to think through things like the likelihood of addiction, the relative harm of addiction itself, etc. compared to the value/potential benefit of use. The two items in the analogy are quite dissimilar in risk-benefit ratio. (It's very debatable whether "sex addiction" is even really an addiction at all, since you have loosen up the definition of "addiction" quite a bit compared to the def. usually used for substance addictions.)

What about the second analogy? Again, relevance to the question is a problem. Everyone agrees that alcohol has a proper use. The debate is over what that proper use is... and I don't think the analogy helps answer that question, given the dissimilarities.

  • Salt (sodium) is actually an essential substance for healthy function of our bodies. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Salt+deficiency ]Read about sodium deficiency . Our bodies don't need alcohol.
  • Consuming a toxic level of salt on any particular occasion doesn't have a tempting degree of appeal to normal people; you can't do it accidentally; and it isn't any fun at all.
  • There is no litany of biblical warnings on the dangers of salt.

There may be some potential in the argument-by-analogy department, but I think there isn't much in these two analogies.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7432 posts
Alcohol as symbol

Shaynus wrote:
I would take the imagery of wine as a whole as well. It's not just about the alcohol, but the imagery works better when alcohol is present. The image is far deeper and fuller than the alcohol because it's a dual symbol of wrath and joy: just like the death of Christ.

I might be willing to concede that, as a metaphor, wine works better with alcohol than without--because it is indeed associated with wrath in Scripture as well as with gladness.

But how well the wine of ancient times works as a metaphor for other things doesn't really argue one way or the other for our consumption of it (using the modern definition of "wine" ) today.

Something to chew on...
Some have granted here that the biblical gladness of wine does not depend on its alcohol exclusively. So, does the wrath associated with wine depend exclusively on its alcohol?
This is worth pondering because it has implications.
Some factors relevant to answering: we've seen that gladness in the positive "wine & gladness" passages (as opposed to the ones where drunkenness is clearly the idea) can have a variety of specific causes--nourishment, refreshment, the joy of abundant harvest, the joy of seeing God's blessing vividly displayed in that abundance, etc.
Do we have similar explanations for the bad behavior or "negative emotions" associated with "wine" in other passages?

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7432 posts
Understanding intoxication

Sorry for kind of piling on here… will be a while before I get back to the thread so one more thing I want to dump. For thinking through what alcohol does compared to excesses of other substances—and what does or doesn’t make for good analogies, it’s worthwhile to read a bit about intoxication.
Bunch of good starting point info here: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/intoxication


intoxication
[intok′sikā′shən ]
Etymology: L, in, within; Gk, toxikon, poison
1 the state of being poisoned by a drug or other toxic substance.
2 the state of being inebriated as a result of an excessive consumption of alcohol.
3 a state of mental or emotional hyperexcitability, usually euphoric.

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.


intoxication [in-tok″sĭ-ka´shun ]
1. stimulation, excitement, or impaired judgment caused by a chemical substance, or as if by one.
2. substance intoxication, especially that due to ingestion of alcohol (see discussion at alcoholism). Alcohol intoxication is defined legally according to a person’s blood alcohol level; the definition is 0.10 per cent or more in most states in the U.S. and 0.8 per cent or more in Canada.
alcohol idiosyncratic intoxication a term previously used for marked behavioral change, usually belligerence, produced by ingestion of small amounts of alcohol that would not cause intoxication in most persons. It is now felt that there is no evidence for a distinction between this condition and any other form of alcohol intoxication.
caffeine intoxication caffeinism (def. 2).
cannabis intoxication physiological and psychological symptoms following the smoking of marijuana or hashish, including euphoria, preoccupation with auditory and visual stimuli, and apathy. Intoxication occurs almost immediately after smoking and peaks within 30 minutes.
pathological intoxication alcohol idiosyncratic i.
substance intoxication a type of substance-induced disorder, consisting of reversible, substance-specific, maladaptive behavioral or psychological changes directly resulting from the physiologic effects on the central nervous system of recent ingestion of or exposure to a drug of abuse, medication, or toxin. Specific cases are named on the basis of etiology, e.g., alcohol intoxication.
water intoxication a condition resulting from undue retention of water with decrease in sodium concentration, marked by lethargy, nausea, vomiting, and mild mental aberrations; in severe cases there may be convulsions and coma.

Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


intoxication
1. A pathologic state induced by an exogenous or,less commonly, endogenous toxic substance 2. Drunkenness, inebriation Toxicology Too much of a bad or, less commonly, a good thing. See Arsenic intoxication, Chromium intoxication, Iodine intoxication, Scombroid intoxication, Selenium intoxication, Toxicology, Vitamin A intoxication, Vitamin C intoxication, Vitamin D intoxication, Vitamin E intoxication, Vitamin K intoxication, Water intoxication, Zinc intoxication.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Offline
Since 6/4/09 09:20:01
344 posts
wine & wrath

Aaron Blumer wrote:
does the wrath associated with wine depend exclusively on its alcohol?
i haven't done an exhaustive study, i don't think verses like psalm 75:8 make any sense without fermentation and alcohol.

Bob Hayton's picture
Offline
Since 7/27/09 10:43:57
652 posts
Aaron, You bring up several

Aaron,

You bring up several good points, but I haven't seen you deal yet with the evidence I brought forth that the description "a merry heart" or "heart merry with wine" is often used as a synonym for wine. That tips the scale in my opinion on the whole topic of wine and joy. My syllogism may not be stated correctly or be the best example of logic - but something is going on when a merry heart is a description of someone who is drunk and also something which God commands us to do. I see that as the quality of wine can be taken too far - but it can also be enjoyed without losing control.

For the record, when I say "intoxicating effects", I mean the quality that makes wine intoxicate people if drunk without limits. I'm not advocating a buzz state is fine to pursue. I don't get close to that at all.

One more thing about substances. Tylenol is one, and so is oxycodone, and a host of other medications. God invented them, mind you. He designed our bodies such that caffeine would stimulate them and alcohol would relax them and medicate them. And he also foresaw all the other substances we would create. Within reason and limits, it is a good thing to have medications and take advantage of them. A glass of wine has health benefits and does relax the body. Something could possibly be said to giving wine to those of a "heavy heart" that they may drink and "remember their sorrows no more" (Prov. 31), but I won't go there.

I'm probably going to bow out at this point, the baby and other things are taking my attention now. I think that you've raised some objections but they are not conclusive enough to counter my primary point. In addition to my primary point there are things that you yourself have granted, that Scripture does attest to the drinking of alcoholic wine being a good or at least a neutral thing. You admit that they did drink alcoholic wine. That and other passages make alcoholic wine a liberty issue - it is permissible. There is no passage that forbids the drinking of alcoholic wine outright. And there would be many opportunities for such a text to be authored (but this is an argument from silence). Furthermore, the history of the church is replete with alcoholic wine being the standard up until the 1800s. And that is when the secular movement of temperance influenced the church and using modern science which for the first time was able to easily and widely limit fermentation - now churches started to use unfermented wine in communion and eventually America's unique culture on this respect was born. To me, it is telling that Thomas Welch invented his grape juice out of a desire to create a prohibitionist version of communion wine. As a child I had always assumed that we were drinking unfermeneted grape juice all the way from John the Baptist's days till now and it was only the modernists or Romanists who substituted it with alcoholic wine.

Anyway it is a complex issue and you are more than free to have many reasons for not partaking of wine to avoid addiction and harm to others and to keep a testimony. I respect that. I just think to do so is to endorse a culture that is using non-biblical methods to effect change in a culture. The culprit isn't an inanimate object (in this case a drink or substance). The culprit is the heart.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Susan R's picture
Offline
Since 5/6/09 20:48:52
4365 posts
Wine & wrath

ChrisC wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
does the wrath associated with wine depend exclusively on its alcohol?
i haven't done an exhaustive study, i don't think verses like psalm 75:8 make any sense without fermentation and alcohol.

The winepress is also associated with God's blessing and God's wrath. See "the pure blood of the grape" in Duet. 32:14 and "the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress" Rev. 14:20. Grapes freshly smooshed are obviously not fermented yet.

Blogging at Susan Raber Online

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Ancient wine making

Aaron Blumer wrote:

But how well the wine of ancient times works as a metaphor for other things doesn't really argue one way or the other for our consumption of it (using the modern definition of "wine" ) today.

Something to chew on...
Some have granted here that the biblical gladness of wine does not depend on its alcohol exclusively. So, does the wrath associated with wine depend exclusively on its alcohol?
This is worth pondering because it has implications.
Some factors relevant to answering: we've seen that gladness in the positive "wine & gladness" passages (as opposed to the ones where drunkenness is clearly the idea) can have a variety of specific causes--nourishment, refreshment, the joy of abundant harvest, the joy of seeing God's blessing vividly displayed in that abundance, etc.
Do we have similar explanations for the bad behavior or "negative emotions" associated with "wine" in other passages?

Aaron,

Great questions all. I've studied ancient and modern winemaking, so I have a few helpful points. I heard or read somewhere (can't remember the source) that the best of ancient wine is worse in quality to the lower quality wines that exist today. One factor there is that the wine we have today is better filtered. When you make wine, you crush it and dump everything in a vat. Today we help the fermentation process along by adding particular yeasts to the process. This helps have a consistent product. But ancient makers didn't know about yeast. What was happening was that naturally occurring yeasts on the skin of the grapes would ferment the wine, and dregs are a by-product of the fermentation and aging process. I would say that ancient alcoholic wine probably had a lot more "floaty bits" in it, which is why the imagery of Christ drinking the cup of wrath "to the dregs" (an unpleasant experience) is almost certainly speaking of alcoholic wine. You don't get dregs with freshly squeezed grape juice because of how the skins hold together. A common way to drink wine in ancient times would have been to pour it, let the dregs settle to the bottom, and sip until you got to the very end, much like a good french press coffee. Christ didn't just sip the wrath of God, he downed it to the bitter last drop. So I would say, wrath imagery doesn't exclusively depend on alcohol, it's also about images of blood, the dregs as I mentioned. I think if it did depend on it, I would insist on drinking real wine at communion.

God uses things present in the physical creation to point to Himself. Those who shun wine and even alcohol categorically risk talking back to God about the wisdom of his creation. He knew alcohol would be a problem for us, yet he created it and our bodies as they are. Let's say that someone argued that Christians, out of prudence, should never hike on mountains because of the physical danger it poses. I would say poppycock. God meant His creation to be enjoyed responsibly. If you think you might fall, take a rope or better yet, some friends. The point is many areas of the created world pose dangers, but we still leap in an enjoy them, and by enjoying them we can enjoy God.

I have a lot of different kinds of friends where I live here in DC. I have a group of radically non-Christian friends that I hang out with occasionally over the last 7-10 years. All are liberal. One works to implement "Health Care Reform." Two are homosexuals. In other words, they're very much not like me, but they love and care for me, and I them. But really as non-Christians go, these are great friends. I've spoken the gospel to each of these friends. We would often do a cookout or barbecue and the wine would flow. I would have a glass of wine and that would be it. My friends would ask if I wanted another one, and after a certain point I would say "No." Why not? "I don't want to get drunk." I think living drinking that is a better picture to what God calls Christians to do than to totally reject any and all wine. I want to obey the charge in Luke 10:8 or 1 Cor 10:23ff to eat what is set before me, and accept hospitality with gladness. I've had the opportunity to say why a Christian shouldn't get drunk to these friends, while accepting their hospitality. At a certain point, I leave whatever dinner or party because there's not point anymore after everyone else is well on their way to getting drunk.

I would contrast that with drinking with Christian friends. I've never seen drinking get out of control with a group of Christians. Not once. Christians should be able to enjoy otherwise dangerous things because God created them.

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Intoxication

I understand how Bob is using the word. "Intoxicating effects" is an OK word. But I'm uncomfortable with it (and have been since before Aaron's post). There's got to be a better way of saying it.

Bob Hayton's picture
Offline
Since 7/27/09 10:43:57
652 posts
Shaynus wrote: I understand

Shaynus wrote:
I understand how Bob is using the word. "Intoxicating effects" is an OK word. But I'm uncomfortable with it (and have been since before Aaron's post). There's got to be a better way of saying it.

Just to maybe help clarify.... For those who haven't ever drank, it is amazing how these effects play out. Just one swallow of wine will almost instantly warm you, flush your face and calm you down. So just a half glass is enough. It is that effect which makes the heart glad or merry.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Offline
Since 8/4/09 15:30:49
120 posts
I don't know...

I would think that since about 1/3 of men who drink end up getting drunk at least once a month that it may be an expedient thing to encourage abstinence amongst believers.

[url ]http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/21/americans.drinking.alcohol.study/in...

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Barry, that means 2/3 don't.

Barry, that means 2/3 don't. The one third that did were almost certainly intending to.

dmicah's picture
Offline
Since 6/15/09 18:29:47
195 posts
act 2

i was going to bow out, but had to respond to Aaron quickly on these points:

Quote:

The first analogy is indeed similar on those points. But the dissimilarities lead me to wonder if we can really find similarity that is relevant to the question.

Alcohol is unlike sex - the former is a substance, the latter an activity.
The former can result in chemical addiction while the latter cannot.
Sex has a designed-in role as a feature of the fundamental unit of society (the family) as well as a major uniting factor in the relationship (marriage) intended to picture the relationship of Christ with His church.

on point 1 - alcoholic beverages are not inebriating without consumption, so to drink is to engage in an activity, an action step taken to achieve a desired effect. to be more specific, if alcohol is just a substance, then sex is just a concept. Until human action is taken in relation to either, nothing has occurred.
on point 2 - sex can become an addiction both as a psychological need and an endorphin driven chemical addiction. the fact of the matter is that addiction is addiction, chemical or not.
on point 3 - i think we can safely argue from Bob's list that wine has been gratuitously applied to human life in general. and since we know that we are not married in heaven, that part of life is going to fade away. We also know we'll be feasting on real food and drinking wine in heaven, so that part will continue. so, the principles around the the use of wine/alcoholic beverages are literally supracultural and timeless.

I don't disagree that arguing from analogies can have limits. But i have to stand by the sex analogy as valid.

Offline
Since 8/4/09 15:30:49
120 posts
Shaynus wrote: Barry, that

Shaynus wrote:
Barry, that means 2/3 don't. The one third that did were almost certainly intending to.

So what you're saying is that everyone that gets drunk, planned to get drunk at the beginning of consumption?

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Pretty much, or that the

Pretty much, or that they didn't intend to not get drunk. That's why drunkenness is a sin.

Offline
Since 3/22/11 13:14:19
142 posts
A Few Late Comments

A few late comments:

My heart has often been made glad without the use of drugs.

As Aaron has already pointed out, the biblical words for wine referred to both alcoholic and nonalcoholic wine. Interestingly, in Matthew 9:17 Jesus referred to both, unfermented and fermented as “wine” (oinos).

The Bible never condones alcohol, it condones wine. Scripture never describes alcoholic wine (by it’s effects, as in Proverbs 23) and then says, drink it. To say the Bible condones alcohol is to read that into Scripture.

Ancients could, in multiple ways, preserve unfermented wine or grape juice. In fact, it was easier for them to preserve wine unfermented, than to preserve it fermented.

Alcohol is a poison and intoxicate means to ingest a toxin or poison (also pointed out by Aaron). Wine is even directly called a mocker (Proverbs 20:1).

Scripture directly says not to drink. Proverbs 23 describes the alcoholic type of wine and says not to even look at it. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 says to be sober (nepho - literally “wineless”). Biblical principles also condemn the taking of a drug for recreational purposes.
David R. Brumbelow

Offline
Since 3/22/11 13:14:19
142 posts
Isaiah 25:6 and Matthew 26:29

As to Isaiah 25:6

The word used in the original Hebrew is not wine, but a word that means preserved things (and you can, or not, translate that as wine). See Young’s Literal Translation.

It should also be restated that unfermented wine could be preserved, just as they could preserve fermented wine. You could also have either on the lees. Either fermented or unfermented wine can improve, and enhance flavors with age.

So this verse really proves nothing on either side about the subject of abstaining from beverage alcohol.

Matthew 26:29 should also be considered with Isaiah 25:6

Matthew 26:29
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Apparently Jesus abstains from alcoholic wine, and for now even nonalcoholic, or new wine.
David R. Brumbelow

Offline
Since 6/4/09 09:20:01
344 posts
shemer = preserved?

David R. Brumbelow wrote:
The word used in the original Hebrew is not wine, but a word that means preserved things
preserved in what way? http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8105&t=KJV ]gesenius says strength and color are preserved. why does young use 'dregs' in psalm 75:8 if shemer just means 'preserved'?

Greg Long's picture
Offline
Since 6/2/09 20:00:32
957 posts
David R. Brumbelow wrote: As

David R. Brumbelow wrote:
As to Isaiah 25:6

The word used in the original Hebrew is not wine, but a word that means preserved things (and you can, or not, translate that as wine). See Young’s Literal Translation.

It should also be restated that unfermented wine could be preserved, just as they could preserve fermented wine. You could also have either on the lees. Either fermented or unfermented wine can improve, and enhance flavors with age.

So this verse really proves nothing on either side about the subject of abstaining from beverage alcohol.

Matthew 26:29 should also be considered with Isaiah 25:6

Matthew 26:29
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Apparently Jesus abstains from alcoholic wine, and for now even nonalcoholic, or new wine.
David R. Brumbelow


David I think this verse actually works against you not for you. Jesus was simply saying he would not be physically present with his disciples to drink wine with them (except for the short period following his resurrection) until he was with them again in the kingdom. The disciples didn't take Jesus to be commanding them to abstain, because they didn't.

------------------------------
Pastor of Adult Ministries

Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Religion
Liberty University Online

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Lord's Table wine

Yeah David, I mean, either you have to say that Jesus is abstaining from alcoholic wine, and that the wine at the Lord's Table was alcoholic wine, or that he's abstaining from grape juice and that the Lord's Table was grape juice. Either the disciples were to drink this alcoholic cup and proclaim the Lord's death till he comes, or Jesus wasn't talking about alcoholic wine in that passage at all. You can't use it in one way and not the other.

Bill Roach's picture
Offline
Since 6/3/09 13:49:44
36 posts
Is it possible...

that some Christians would have wanted to put Jesus in jail for turning water into wine in John 2?

For my brothers and sisters who believe that every Christian should abstain from alcohol for any other reason but "medicinal," would you change your mind if you were convinced that Jesus turned water into a substance to be drunk at a wedding that contained alcohol?

I'm not asking for your opinion on whether or not you believe the substance that Jesus created contained alcohol, but merely asking if you would change your opinion of when it should be drunk if you believe He did.

If those of you who believe in abstine
nce for all Christians except for "medicinal" purposes(or something very close to this position,) would please respond, I would be grateful.

I would like to follow up with a different thought after this little survey.

I appreciate your response.

Offline
Since 8/4/09 15:30:49
120 posts
I would not change my opinion

The basis of my belief is not in the theory of whether wine=grape juice or that the dilution of alcohol back then is different than today. I feel that in this day and age where alcohol is such a bain in this society that I Cor. 6:12 makes it awfully difficult or me to ok alcohol for recreational use.

Timothy must have held that position for himself, being a pastor in asia minor. Paul had to encourage him to go ahead and drink wine for his stomach's sake. He must have been an abstainer.

Offline
Since 3/22/11 13:14:19
142 posts
Scripture Never Says Jesus Made Alcohol

Greg,
In Matthew Jesus was saying He would drink wine new. That is a strong indication He was speaking of unfermented wine.

Bill,
I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but if Jesus made alcohol at Cana, that would endorse the use of alcohol. Interestingly, Scripture never says Jesus made alcohol; that is an assumption, an interpretation. Yes, mine is also an interpretation since oinos can be either one. But I think I have strong evidence for my position.

Shaynus,
Not sure I understand you. I do not believe Jesus drank or made alcoholic wine. I do not believe the disciples drank alcoholic wine at the Last Supper; it doesn‘t even use the word wine, but cup or fruit of the vine. Josephus used fruit of the vine to refer to obviously unfermented wine. It should be remembered when we see “wine” in Scripture, unless it is explained, it can mean either fermented or unfermented wine. They could easily preserve unfermented wine.

Barry,
I agree that Timothy was clearly an abstainer. And it is not certain that Paul was recommending alcoholic wine. Non alcoholic wine has numerous health benefits. To not offend, some in ancient times would not even drink unfermented wine. Either way, it was simply recommending wine for medicinal use.
David R. Brumbelow

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
The logic of my point.

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

So this verse really proves nothing on either side about the subject of abstaining from beverage alcohol.

Matthew 26:29 should also be considered with Isaiah 25:6

Matthew 26:29
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Apparently Jesus abstains from alcoholic wine, and for now even nonalcoholic, or new wine.

Shaynus wrote:

Lord's Table wine
Yeah David, I mean, either you have to say that Jesus is abstaining from alcoholic wine, and that the wine at the Lord's Table was alcoholic wine, or that he's abstaining from grape juice and that the Lord's Table was grape juice. Either the disciples were to drink this alcoholic cup and proclaim the Lord's death till he comes, or Jesus wasn't talking about alcoholic wine in that passage at all. You can't use it in one way and not the other.

David R. Brumbelow wrote:

Shaynus,
Not sure I understand you. I do not believe Jesus drank or made alcoholic wine. I do not believe the disciples drank alcoholic wine at the Last Supper; it doesn‘t even use the word wine, but cup or fruit of the vine. Josephus used fruit of the vine to refer to obviously unfermented wine. It should be remembered when we see “wine” in Scripture, unless it is explained, it can mean either fermented or unfermented wine. They could easily preserve unfermented wine.

Barry,
I agree that Timothy was clearly an abstainer. And it is not certain that Paul was recommending alcoholic wine. Non alcoholic wine has numerous health benefits. To not offend, some in ancient times would not even drink unfermented wine. Either way, it was simply recommending wine for medicinal use.
David R. Brumbelow

It seems to me that you're making an argument something like this:

Jesus in Matt 26:29 abstained from alcoholic wine until his kingdom.
We are to be like Jesus.
Therefore we are to abstain from alcoholic wine.

But that's not including the rest of that same passage. Jesus instituted the same cup at the Lord's Supper that he told us he refused. It's the same imagery (Cup = Cup). If you make a point that Jesus abstains to this day from alcoholic wine (which I agree with), then you also have to say that the apostles and the church should not abstain at the Table, but rather proclaim the Lord's death till he comes by the very same cup. That's why Greg Long could say with surety that the disciples did not abstain. They observed the Lord's Supper of course.

If you say that the Lord's Supper did not use alcoholic wine, then you have to say that the cup He was refering to in the Matt 26:29 passage was not alcoholic either. Therefore you can't make any determination about Jesus' abstinence from the time of his death until now.

Does that make sense? I hope it does. I hate to do drive-by criticism, but I don't think your original point makes any sense in the context of the passage you were using.

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
THIS fruit of the vine

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

(Matthew 26:26-30 ESV)

In context, "this" fruit is talking about the cup he had just served. It makes no sense to be talking about two different wines. "This" refers to the present cup before them clearly. The disciples wouldn't have been able to make sense of two different wines Jesus talked about, and His statement wouldn't make sense if he was bringing up different kind of cup.

Offline
Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
Two Wine Theory

David,

One question. Do you advocate the two wine theory? Seems like it. . .

Your point seems to be a great example of the exegetical gymnastics one has to go through to believe the theory, or at least to make it useful.

Shaynus

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7432 posts
Merry heart

Bob,
Getting back to you on the "merry heart" reasoning. I guess I'm not clear what the reasoning there is.
It doesn't follow that if two things have a quality in common then they must also have some other quality/qualities in common.
It also doesn't follow that A and B both result in C, then B must produce it the same way A does.

But there's another problem. If we reason that drunkeness --> "merry heart" and wine-->"merry heart" therefore the alcohol in wine is what's in view in passages like Eccles. 9.7 and Isaiah 24.7, these passages are not condoning anything. They're simply stating that when famine and judgment come there will be no wine and none of the gladness the wine would bring. It's a true statement regardless of what sort of gladness we take it to mean... but it says nothing about either the ethics of obtaining gladness from wine in a particular way or about the blessedness of wine being linked to a particular kind of gladness.

As for Welch... It's common for wine advocates to say Welch invented grape juice. This is clearly not true. The first person to crush a grape invented grape juice (probably Adam or Eve). What filled the vats and flowed from the presses was grape juice. But there was no separate word for that. Grape juice with or without fermentation was "wine."
This is not a "two wines" idea, it's a wine continuum idea. Wine was everything from the contents of the grape to the highly diluted fermented drink to the intentionally concentrated form.

Some posted earlier the question whether it would make any difference to believers in abstinence if they knew Jesus created and drank alcoholic wine at Cana. I can only speak for myself on that point. Supposing hypothetically that Jesus created and consumed fermented wine at Cana, no, it would not change my conviction about what's appropriate today. The reason is that the strongest case against alcohol consumption today is not dependent on what was or wasn't consumed in ancient times.

One response about the analogies thing: if we grant for the sake of argument that sex or salt or something else are strong analogies for alcohol, the most the analogy can establish is that the substance may be used judiciously. This is really not in dispute. The debate is over what constitutes judicious/appropriate use. For total abstainers, it's limited to medical use. For some others, it's limited to beverage use with a meal etc., but not for pursuing mood alteration. For others, it's appropriate to use it for mood alteration but not for drunkenness.
Each will have to be fully persuaded in his own mind, of course.

Bob Hayton's picture
Offline
Since 7/27/09 10:43:57
652 posts
last response

I'm going to stick to the main post for my last response here. Aaron's reply brings us back to this main point again.

Quote:
Bob,
Getting back to you on the "merry heart" reasoning. I guess I'm not clear what the reasoning there is.
It doesn't follow that if two things have a quality in common then they must also have some other quality/qualities in common.
It also doesn't follow that A and B both result in C, then B must produce it the same way A does.

But there's another problem. If we reason that drunkeness --> "merry heart" and wine-->"merry heart" therefore the alcohol in wine is what's in view in passages like Eccles. 9.7 and Isaiah 24.7, these passages are not condoning anything. They're simply stating that when famine and judgment come there will be no wine and none of the gladness the wine would bring. It's a true statement regardless of what sort of gladness we take it to mean... but it says nothing about either the ethics of obtaining gladness from wine in a particular way or about the blessedness of wine being linked to a particular kind of gladness.

Aaron, I think you're needlessly limiting this to "merry" hearts, so you choose just Eccles. 9:7 and Is. 24:7 (rather than expanding it to "joy" and "make glad" and choosing other texts too). If we establish that a merry heart is what is happening with drunkenness, then it is clear the wine has a causal role in this. The wine is causing them to have a merry heart in a particular sort of way. That is clearly what's happening in 1 Sam. 25:36 (and the other passages I list in http://sharperiron.org/comment/41678#comment-41678 ]this comment ).

So I posit a causal role for wine. Wine causes merriness (the sort that is displayed by drunken people, as well as other sorts of merriness). You are saying that wine brings gladness and merriment generally and not particularly, and it is joy in the harvest and all that. This may be, but we have in 1 Sam. 25 and these other passages a statement that wine causes a particular sort of merriness and that this is a causal connection.

It is this which should impact how we view other passages like Judges 9:13 and Ps. 104:15, to name a few. God gave wine "to gladden the heart of men". The causal element is clear. In that passage oil was given to make faces shine. Bread was given to strengthen man. And wine was given to give him joy. And I conclude that all this stuff about wine and joy - is organically connected (not to rule out other sorts of joy too in the greater contexts of all this, but at least this organic joy too).

I can agree that this is an interpretation. But it is aided by the general consensus that fermented wine was definitely being partaken of in the OT times for sure and also NT times. You seem to agree with that consensus. I do agree that my view doesn't have to be the only view of what these verses teach because it isn't as explicit as that. But when read together, all the texts on wine and joy. And seeing the context of 1 Sam. 25 and other such passages. I conclude that God gave wine to man for our good and for the temporary relief of stress and other health benefits that it brings - and to give us the joy that we have when we drink good wine with good friends and people. This festal joy was God's gift to man and God designed all of this when he created the natural fermentation process and the gift of wine.

Now others have brought up Prov. 23, and I have addressed that already in this post: http://www.fundamentallyreformed.com/2008/08/10/proverbs-23-and-a-univer... Proverbs 23 And a Universal Prohibition of Alcohol . Proverbs is poetic language and that impacts how we interpret that passage.

I'm going to leave the thread now, and basically just leave it at this (if I can resist the urge to jump back in). I think I've said my piece and this is enough. Thanks for the interaction.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

JNoël's picture
Offline
Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
75 posts
Quick thought...

Bob Hayton wrote:
This festal joy was God's gift to man and God designed all of this when he created the natural fermentation process and the gift of wine.

Two separate thoughts:

a) Did God create the "natural" fermentation process?
b) Did God create humans to be impacted, possibly to drunkenness, by a process that renders squishing of grapes gradually toxic to the human body? In other words, were Adam and Eve, prior to the fall, capable of becoming intoxicated if there was actually a process that God's created fruit of grapes underwent resulting in a fluidic substance that contained a toxin?

Neither of those can be proven no more than one can prove God created a process that would result in squished grapes to develop into a toxin or that he created humans to be able to be impacted by such a toxin to the point of drunkenness. That's all I'm saying.

Jason

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Offline
Since 3/22/11 13:14:19
142 posts
Wine a Generic Word in Ancient Times

Shaynus,
I believe the wine (actually called cup, fruit of the vine) at the Last Supper and the Lord’s Supper was unfermented wine. I believe it was this type of wine Jesus said He would drink again in the kingdom.

I believe the Bible both directly and indirectly condemns alcohol.

The two-wine theory is frankly not a theory, but a fact. It is a fact that the Bible speaks of both fermented and unfermented wine. The same words were used to refer to either one. Ancient writers also did this. A few examples of unfermented wine called wine in Scripture: Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 16:10; Lamentations 2:11-12; Joel 2:24; Mark 2:22.

Aristotle said sweet wine would not intoxicate. Aristotle said “must” is a kind of wine. Plutarch wrote trying to figure out why some wine intoxicated and some did not. Plato said he was sending sweet wine to the children. Ancient wine recipes are given that could not have possibly been fermented. Many more examples could be given.

They used “wine” to refer to both fermented and unfermented, just like today we use words that can refer to either one; words like: cider, punch, eggnog, liquor, drink.

They obviously had alcoholic wine in Bible times. They also obviously had, and preserved, unfermented wine.
David R. Brumbelow

Joel Shaffer's picture
Offline
Since 6/16/09 18:46:01
408 posts
Quote:Two separate

Quote:
Two separate thoughts:

a) Did God create the "natural" fermentation process?
b) Did God create humans to be impacted, possibly to drunkenness, by a process that renders squishing of grapes gradually toxic to the human body? In other words, were Adam and Eve, prior to the fall, capable of becoming intoxicated if there was actually a process that God's created fruit of grapes underwent resulting in a fluidic substance that contained a toxin?

Neither of those can be proven no more than one can prove God created a process that would result in squished grapes to develop into a toxin or that he created humans to be able to be impacted by such a toxin to the point of drunkenness. That's all I'm saying.

a. No, but he did charge humans with the cultural mandate to harness the resources of this world in order to reflect God's glory (Gen. 1: 26-28; 2:15)

b. Let me ask a question to answer this question: Did God create humans to be slaughtered by the millions with weapons of bronze and iron? Yet it was part of the development of culture. Bronze and iron were developed by Tubal-Cain from the ungodly, wicked line of Cain (Gen. 4:20-22) yet we have used bronze and iron for tools, sculptures, and many other things that are good. These resources, whether bronze, iron, musical instruments, and even fermented wine are part of God's common grace. But even a hammer (which was made for good) from these tools can be used for bad. Years ago, in our urban ministry, I had a parent of one of our 2nd grade students, that used a hammer to crush another lady's skull, which of course killed her. We don't ban the hammer or the material that the hammer came from because someone used it for evil. My point is, as God's image-bearer, God has given us the responsibility to use these resources for good. It is very possible to use fermented wine for good.

Let me give you an example from my own life. Our inner-city ministry is fraught with stress. I deal with violence on weekly basis (for instance, we had to shut down our basketball program this week because of a fight where a young man threatened to shoot and kill the person he was fighting) When I come home from work, in a situation like this it will take me a couple hours to unwind. Sometimes when I need to really relax, my godly wife will insist that I have a glass of wine. Why? Not because it gives me a buzz because it doesn't. Not because I am trying to drink away my problems.....

No, its because it is a natural way for me to relax and be calm and it helps take away the harsh edge that I would bring home, which used to negatively impact my family. I used to resist this because of all the fundy/prohibition baggage that many of us have talked about. To be honest with you, the only ones that have a problem with me drinking a glass of wine once in a while are the judgmental conservative Christians that don't even have a drinking problem. I rarely bring this up because it just leads to stupid fights and misunderstandings among some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Its not the alcoholics that I cross paths with.......Now if I was a drunk, then those who struggle with alcohol would also have a major problem with me and would consider me quite the hypocrite and they would be right.

By the way, out of the 20 or so years of doing inner-city ministry where I deal with people who are alcoholics on a weekly basis, I have rarely come across people that accidentally got drunk, which led to their demise. No. There was something much more deep which led them to intentionally use alcohol because they were intentionally trying to get buzzed or drunk in order for them to deal with their internal problems of a failed marriage, abusive father, losing their job, and etc.....

_________________________________________

http://www.utmgr.org/blog_index.html

Offline
Since 6/30/09 10:23:44
484 posts
Key Hebrew Words (yayin)

Key Hebrew Words
(yayin) wine.
The word is used 140 times, 12 of these in combination with sh¢k¹r (KJV "wine and strong drink"; NIV sometimes "wine and beer"). Its intoxicating properties are mentioned at least twenty times. It is mentioned as a common drink, an element in banquets and as the material used in libation offerings. These are called "drink offerings" in KJV, NASB, NIV, etc., but they were not drunk. The related Hebrew verb (n¹sak) means "to pour out." These offerings were poured out on the sacrifices upon the brazen altar (Exo 29:40 and Exo 30:9), but in sarcasm the heathen gods are spoken of as eating the food and drinking the drink offerings given them (Deut 32:38).
Abundance of wine, however, is taken as a symbol of affluence (Gen 49:11-12; 1Chr 12:40; Ezek 27:18). There are places that speak of the lift to the feelings that wine brings (Zech 10:7; 2Sam 13:28; Est 1:10; Ps 104:15; Eccl 9:7-10; Eccl 10:19; Isa 55:1). It may be questioned whether in these verses that wine is commended because of this lift or if the verses use the freedom from inhibition as a symbol of plenty and blessing–cf. Nathan's reference to David's polygamy as a symbol of God's giving him great riches (2 Sam 12:8). Wine is also used in symbolic ways of the Lord's wrath (Jer 25:15; etc.) of Babylon's judgment (Jer 51:7) of violence (Prov 4:17) and of desire (Song 1:2; Song 4:10).
All the wine was light wine, i.e. not fortified with extra alcohol. Concentrated alcohol was only known in the Middle Ages when the Arabs invented distillation ("alcohol" is an Arabic word) so what is now called liquor or strong drink (i.e. whiskey, gin, etc.) and the twenty percent fortified wines were unknown in biblical times. The strength of natural wines is limited by two factors. The percentage of alcohol will be half of the percentage of the sugar in the juice. And if the alcoholic content is much above 10 percent, the yeast cells are killed and fermentation ceases. Probably ancient wines were 7-10 percent alcohol. Drunkenness, therefore, was of course an ancient curse, but alcoholism was not as common or as severe as it is today. And in an agricultural age, its effects were less deadly than now. Still, even then it had its dangers and Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23:29-35 are emphatic in their warnings. To avoid the sin of drunkenness, mingling of wine with water was practiced. This dilution was specified by the Rabbis, for the wine then was customary at Passover. The original Passover did not include wine (Deut 20:6) (W. Dommershausen, “Yayin,” TDOT, vol. 6, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990 ], pp. 64-65).

(shakar) to become drunk
The term means to become drunk, drunken, or be full (BDB, p. 1016). The verb is used nineteen times in the OT, twelve of which are in the prophetic books. In the Qal stem (ten times) the verb is intransitive, "be drunk." In the Piel and Hiphil stems (four times each) it is transitive, "make drunk."
With very few exceptions sh¹kar and its derivatives are used in a highly unfavorable and negative context. But the few passages where the root is used in an acceptable sense should be observed. First, "strong drink" was to be used in the drink offering (Num 28:7) which of course was not drunk, but poured out as a libation. Second, the annual tithe to be paid to the Lord, the owner of the soil, might involve strong drink (Deut 14:26). Third, sh¢k¹r could be used as a medicinal stimulant–Prov 31:6, "Give strong drink unto him that is about to perish" (and cf. Mt 27:34; Mk 15:23 at the cross). Thus, of the nearly sixty uses of the root sh¹kar, only a few refer to something good and acceptable.
Several instances of intoxication, caused by sh¢k¹r, are noted in Scripture: (1) Gen 9:20-27, Noah; (2) 1Sam 25:36, Nabal; (3) 2Sam :28-29, Amnon; (4) 1Kings 16:9, Elah; (5) 1Kings 20:16, Ben-hadad 1. Of special interest are those passages which indicate that God sends drunkenness upon people. Jeremiah 13:13 says, "I am going to fill with drunkenness (kings, prophets, and priests), " or Isaiah 63:6, "I will make them drunk in my fury." The idea is that drunkenness indicates helplessness. Thus, God says to his people (Isa 49:26), "I will make your oppressors eat their flesh and they shall be drunk with their own blood." Here, "to be drunk" means "to be helpless, " "I will reduce your oppressors to a state of total helplessness" (cf. Jer 25:27; Jer 51:39, 57) (TWOT, vol 2, pp. 926-27).

(shekar) strong drink.
This term means intoxicating drink, strong drink, or beer and is usually condemned (Isa 5:22; 28:7; 28:7; 28:7 56:12; Mi 2:11, Pr 20:1; BDB, p. 1016). Most likely it does not mean "liquor" for there is no evidence of distilled liquor in ancient times. It denotes not just barley beer but any alcoholic beverage prepared from either grain or fruit. In all but two of its twenty-three uses in the OT (Num 28:7; Psa 69:12) it appears in connection with yayin "wine," usually following it, once preceding it (Prov 31:6) (TWOT, vol 2, pp. 926-27).
Other Hebrew terms for wine are tirosh (new wine), ‘asis (sweet wine), mimsak/mezeg (mixed wine with herbs), and shemer (aged wine) (A. R. S. Kennedy, “Wine and Strong Drink,” Dictionary of the Bible, rev. ed. [New York: Scribner’s, 1963 ] pp. 1038-39).

Key Greek Words
The key NT words for wine and strong drink are oinos, gleukos, and sikera. Sikera (strong drink) is used only once in the NT (Luke 1:15) for a grain-based alcohol or intoxicating beverage made from other sources of fruit. Oinos is used more than thirty times in the NT and usually refers to fermented drink. Gleukos (new wine or sweet wine) represented wine that was not fully aged or wine that had a higher sugar content (Wayne House, “Wine” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988 ]). Professor A. C. Schultz points out that “Usually the new wine was left in the vat to undergo the first fermentation which took four to seven days. It was then drawn off. . . . The whole period of fermentation would last from two to four months when the wine would be ready for use (“Wine and Strong Drink,” in Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5:938).

In general, the OT and NT terms for wine referred to the fruit of the vine usually in some stage of fermentation. Exceptions could be “sweet new wine,” fresh wine from the harvest (Isa 16:10; John 2), and diluted wine.

Pastor Mike Harding

JNoël's picture
Offline
Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
75 posts
Is anything composed of matter sin in itself?

Joel Shaffer wrote:
My point is, as God's image-bearer, God has given us the responsibility to use these resources for good. It is very possible to use fermented wine for good.

Let me give you an example from my own life. Our inner-city ministry is fraught with stress. I deal with violence on weekly basis (for instance, we had to shut down our basketball program this week because of a fight where a young man threatened to shoot and kill the person he was fighting) When I come home from work, in a situation like this it will take me a couple hours to unwind. Sometimes when I need to really relax, my godly wife will insist that I have a glass of wine. Why? Not because it gives me a buzz because it doesn't. Not because I am trying to drink away my problems.....

No, its because it is a natural way for me to relax and be calm and it helps take away the harsh edge that I would bring home, which used to negatively impact my family. I used to resist this because of all the fundy/prohibition baggage that many of us have talked about. To be honest with you, the only ones that have a problem with me drinking a glass of wine once in a while are the judgmental conservative Christians that don't even have a drinking problem. I rarely bring this up because it just leads to stupid fights and misunderstandings among some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Its not the alcoholics that I cross paths with.......Now if I was a drunk, then those who struggle with alcohol would also have a major problem with me and would consider me quite the hypocrite and they would be right.

By the way, out of the 20 or so years of doing inner-city ministry where I deal with people who are alcoholics on a weekly basis, I have rarely come across people that accidentally got drunk, which led to their demise. No. There was something much more deep which led them to intentionally use alcohol because they were intentionally trying to get buzzed or drunk in order for them to deal with their internal problems of a failed marriage, abusive father, losing their job, and etc.....

Appreciate the anecdote, but I disagree with the analogy (in similar ways to how Aaron disagreed with the analogies of sex, salt, and spirits).

There are many things that can be used for evil and good. Guns, drugs, food, etc. Alcoholic beverages are not, in themselves, evil, at least in my opinion. I'm guessing there are "judgmental conservative Christians" who believe alcoholic beverages are, in themselves, sinful - I don't agree with that. I do agree that fermented grape juice can be used for good, but not in the same way drinking a cup of coffee, iced tea, hot chocolate, or Welch's relaxes various people. I differentiate those beverages from alcoholic ones because of the fact that alcohol, in itself, is not healthy, it is toxic. The health benefits gained from alcoholic beverages can easily be had elsewhere, so that argument is null.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Offline
Since 6/30/09 10:23:44
484 posts
Why Believers Today Should

Why Believers Today Should Abstain From Alcohol as a Beverage

1. Wine in the NT era and wine today are not identical.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Yayin and Oinos usually refer to wine in some state of fermentation beginning with fresh, sweet juice available immediately after grape harvest (Isa 16:10; Jer 48:33) that quickly starts the fermentation process in the absence of refrigeration or pressurized bottling. Fermentation is a natural process that takes place when the grape juice comes into contact with the yeast released from broken grape skins during the treading of grapes.

"New wine" in Hebrew and Greek respectively (tirosh / gleukos) may refer to the juice of the grape that was fresh or in the first year of fermentation. Mixed Wine in the OT was wine flavored with herbs and quite intoxicating (Prov 23:30). Undiluted wine in the NT era was approximately 7%-10% alcohol and usually not taken as a beverage without proper dilution. On account of extra yeast and controlled heating conditions, some standard table wines today by comparison are as much as 14% alcohol. Fermented wine in the Greek and NT eras was regularly diluted with water (“Wine Drinking in New Testament Times” by Robert H. Stein, Christianity Today, June 20, 1975, pp. 9-11). The Talmud (200 B.C—200 A.D.) records the Jewish practice of regularly reducing the effects of wine by a 3/1 or 2/1 ratio of water to wine. In the rabbinic period “Yayin is to be distinguished from Shekar [strong drink ]: the former is diluted with water; the latter is undiluted” (Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901, vol. 12, p. 533). The Jewish Mishnah said, “They do not say the Benediction over the wine until water has been added to it” (The Mishnah, Berakhot 7.5 ed, by Herbert Danby [Oxford Press, 1893 ]). The normal mixture for the Jews was three parts water to one part wine (Shabbath 77a). In the Passover ritual during NT times the four cups every Jew was to drink during the ceremony had to be mixed three parts water to one part wine (Pesahim 108b). This practice is reflected as common during the inter-testament period in 2 Maccabees 15:39: “It is harmful to drink wine alone, or again to drink water alone [bacteria issues ], while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment” (See “Wine” in The New Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. Geoffrey Wigoder [New York: New York University Press, 2002 ], pp. 798ff).

This dilution process reduced the alcoholic content of the wine down to approximately 2.25–2.75%. In contrast to the ancient world, the modern world does not dilute the effects of alcohol. Beer is 3.5% to 4.5% and typically served in 12-16 ounce containers; table wines are as much as 14%; fortified wines are 18-24%; hard liquor is 40% (80 proof). A diluted wine would reduce the risks of drunkenness from that of an undiluted wine.

“In NT times the practice of dilution seems to have been usual” (A. R. S. Kennedy, “Wine and Strong Drink,” Dictionary of the Bible, rev. ed. [New York: Scribner’s, 1963 ] pp. 1038- 39).

"The wine of classical antiquity was very different from modern wine. They . . . always diluted it with water before consumption . . . . Only barbarians drank undiluted wine" (Maynard A. Amerine, Collier’s Encyclopedia, 1994, vol. 23, p. 518).

“In all these countries [Syria, Palestine, Egypt ], wine was always diluted with water, a long-standing custom in Mediterranean regions, where pure potable water is not very common” (R. J .Forbes, Professor of the History of Pure and Applied Sciences in Antiquity, University of Amsterdam, in Encyclopedia American, 1989, 29:44-45).

“At a latter period, however, the Greek use of diluted wines had attained such sway that the writer of 2 Maccabees speaks (15:39) of undiluted wine as ‘distasteful.’ This dilution is so normal in the following centuries that the Mishcan take it for granted and, indeed, Rabbi Eliezer even forbade saying the table-blessing over undiluted wine. The proportion of water was large, only one-third or one-fourth of the total mixture being wine. Note— The wine of the Last Supper, accordingly, may be described in modern terms as a sweet, red, fermented wine, rather highly diluted [emphasis mine ]” (Burton S. Easton, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1984, vol. 5, p. 3087). The reference in Isaiah 1:22 to diluted wine as bad should not be taken as a proof that Jews did not dilute wine, but as a metaphor of spiritual adulteration (cf. Isa 1:21).

“The use of wine at the paschal feast . . . had become an established custom at all events in the post-Babylonian period. The wine was mixed with warm water on these occasions . . . . Hence in the early Christian Church it was usual to mix the sacramental wine with water” (Merrill Unger, “Wine,” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed., [Chicago: Moody Press, 1981 ], p. 1169).

“He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength [“akratou” from “akratos” meaning “undiluted” ] into the cup of his wrath” (Rev 14:10a)

The Greeks practiced dilution and it eventually spread throughout the Roman world including Palestine. Pliney's work entitled "Natural History" mentions an 8 to 1 ratio of water to wine. Other Classical Greek writers mention similar ratios: Hesiod--3 to 1, Alexis--4 to 1, Diocles -- 2 to 1. Mnesitheus of Athens said: “The gods have revealed wine to mortals, to be the greatest blessing for those who use it aright, but for those who use it without measure, the reverse. For it gives food to them that take it and strength in mind and body. In medicine it is most beneficial . . . . In daily intercourse, to those who mix and drink it moderately, it gives good cheer; but if you overstep the bounds, it brings violence. Mix it half and half and you get madness; unmixed, bodily collapse" (Stein, “Wine Drinking,” p. 9).

According to Stein, dilution was practiced in the early centuries of the church. Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) described the Lord's Supper as "Bread is brought, wine and water, and the elder sends up prayers and thanksgiving" (Apology, I, 67, 5). Cyprian (250 A.D.) said, "Thus, therefore, in considering the cup of the Lord, water alone cannot be offered, even as wine alone cannot be offered. For if anyone offers wine only, the blood of Christ is dissociated from us; but if the water be alone, the people are dissociated from Christ. . . . Thus the cup of the Lord is not indeed water alone nor wine alone, unless each be mingled with the other" (Epistle, LXII, 2, 11 and 13). Clement of Alexandria (late 2nd century) said, "It is best for the wine to be mixed with as much water as possible. . . . For both are works of God and the mixing of the two, both of water and wine produce health. . . . To the necessary element, the water, which is in the greatest quantity, there is to be mixed in some of the useful element" (Instructor, in James Donaldson, ed., Ante-Nicence Fathers [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans ] vol. 2, 2.2).It appears that Paul sets the standard for the early church in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 of "not beside wine," not "much wine," and not drinking water exclusively but using a little wine for one's stomach. "Strong drink" (sikera) seems to be completely off limits in the NT; it is only mentioned once in the NT in reference to the abstention of John the Baptist.

Pastor Mike Harding

Jim's picture
Offline
Since 5/6/09 20:47:03
6855 posts
On fermentation

JNoël wrote:
Did God create the "natural" fermentation process?

  • Did God create the microorganisms that are the agents of fermentation (eg Saccharomyces - see below)? My position = "yes"
  • Did He create them in the six day creation process (day # 6)? My position = "yes". Were they "good"? My conclusion = "yes"
  • Not sure how much time from creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall, but if the microorganisms were created on day 6 then it would have been possible for Adam and Eve to stomp grapes and initiate the fermentation process of wine making "prior to the fall"
  • I'm not a scientist but I did take H/S and college biology. Several fermentation articles (that are worth reviewing!)
  • Fermentation is not decay (some have used this argument). It is not inherently evil. It is natural and part of God's creative order.
  • Many products are the result of fermentation: Breads, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkraut ]sauerkraut , cheeses, yogurts, etc (also beers, wines too!)
JNoël's picture
Offline
Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
75 posts
Thank you

Jim Peet wrote:

  • Did God create the microorganisms that are the agents of fermentation (eg Saccharomyces - see below)? My position = "yes"
  • Did He create them in the six day creation process (day # 6)? My position = "yes". Were they "good"? My conclusion = "yes"
  • Not sure how much time from creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall, but if the microorganisms were created on day 6 then it would have been possible for Adam and Eve to stomp grapes and initiate the fermentation process of wine making "prior to the fall"
  • I'm not a scientist but I did take H/S and college biology. Several fermentation articles (that are worth reviewing!)
  • Fermentation is not decay (some have used this argument). It is not inherently evil. It is natural and part of God's creative order.
  • Many products are the result of fermentation: Breads, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkraut ]sauerkraut , cheeses, yogurts, etc (also beers, wines too!)

Thank you, Jim. I'm not dogmatic in my opinion about whether or not God created fermentation, it was only food for thought. I'm also aware of leaven/bread, molds/cheese, etc. All certainly appear "natural." None of us will ever know exactly how God's creation has been impacted by sin and the fall of man until he makes it new again in the future. Will grapes still ferment in the new earth? Will mold and leaven still do their work? I think the answer is yes, but it is still not possible to prove either position. I think the larger questions are what impact, if any, did fermented wine (i.e., alcoholic) have on Adam and Eve prior to the fall (if they drank it), and what impact, if any, will fermented wine (i.e., alcoholic) have on our new, sinless bodies in eternity (if we drink it). Both are unanswerables, but the exercise is good.

JN

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

Offline
Since 3/22/11 13:14:19
142 posts
Ways of Preserving Unfermented Wine

The fermentation process was not inevitable.
Not all authorities agree that Shekar was always alcoholic.

Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2010/10/preserving-unfermented-wine-...

Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2011/08/deuteronomy-1426-does-it-com...
David R. Brumbelow

Bob Hayton's picture
Offline
Since 7/27/09 10:43:57
652 posts
3 quick points

Three quick points

1) According to Isaiah 25:6, there will be aged wine (wine on the lees) in the new earth. So fermentation seems to be expected in that regard. Also, since Mike Harding has done some excellent research above, we can see that the Passover wine used in Jesus' day was most likely 2.5% alcoholic (or perhaps more). That is what Jesus promises to drink again with us in the new earth.

2) I do take issue with Pastor Harding for arguing from silence that the NT must not condone the use of strong drink (because it doesn't mention it at all). This is highly suspect reasoning. I do note also that he doesn't give much time to Deut. 14:26 just calling it a tithe of strong drink. Let me just type the verse out in full for its full effect, it was a special sort of tithe meant to be eaten in a feast before the Lord. Almost no one disputes that the word shekar (strong drink) was not alcoholic in nature.

Quote:
Deut. 14:24-26 (ESV, emphasis added)

And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 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.

3) I don't have an issue saying wine today is different than wine in Bible times, or that the culture surrounding wine today is different than what it was then. But we are going beyond the page of Scripture to conclude that this difference means that Christians should abstain from wine period. Scripture doesn't go that far. It warns against drunkenness but also lauds the joy-producing qualities of wine (as Mike Harding admits). But it does not forbid drinking alcoholic drinks. In some cases it commends drinking them (see Deut. 14 above). I don't mind if people take the warnings and the teachings on wisdom and what have you, and apply it to their culture and choose not to drink. But usually this is not what happens. They then go beyond that and say that Scripture teaches you shouldn't drink at all - or Scripture forbids drinking. Scripture explicitly calls drinking wine a liberty issue (Rom. 14:21) of the same sort as eating meats. And yes we need to be willing to forego our liberties for the sake of others, I'm not arguing against that. But if it is a liberty, then it is a liberty!! And people have the liberty to enjoy this God-given gift that is alcoholic wine (in moderation, of course).

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Offline
Since 6/30/09 10:23:44
484 posts
Why Abstinence for Christians

2. The use of diluted wine is no longer necessary today in modern society.

In the NT era there was little else to drink. It would have been quite difficult (not impossible) not to drink wine in those times and under those conditions. The alcohol content made wine one of the safest liquids to drink, because the water supplies were often contaminated. Alcohol had a medicinal effect in that case. With modern purification of water and a host of alternatives that are completely safe, it is not necessary today to drink diluted wine for one's health. The American Heart Association does not normally recommend alcoholic beverages as a treatment for heart conditions. Whatever minimal health benefits are offered by a moderate drinking of wine can be obtained by the use of pasteurized grape juice.

3. Drunkenness is clearly forbidden as it has the potential to replace the influence of the Spirit in a believer's life (Eph 5:18-20).

Christians are not to associate with so-called Christians who get drunk (1 Cor 5:11). Drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9ff; Gal 5:19ff). Many NT passages call Christians to sobriety ("napho"; 1 Thess 5:1-11; 2 Tim 4:5; 1 Pet 1:13, 4:7, 5:8) and temperance ("naphalios"; 1 Tim 3:2, 11; Titus 2:2; Otto Bauernfeind, TDNT, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964 ] 5:165 ], argues that both these terms include a literal as well as a figurative sobriety).

4. In the NT era Christians used diluted wine (see previous post).

1 Timothy 5:22-23 says, "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses" (NIV; cf. Luke 10:33ff). Timothy was avoiding the use of diluted wine perhaps out of motivation to be pure (1 Tim 5:22a). It is clear here that diluted wine had a necessary medicinal value to Timothy for his digestive system. God's people could use it as such in the NT era. In vs. 22 hudropoteo means "to drink water without wine mixed in" (Gordon Fee, Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, p. 92). Paul commands Timothy to drink diluted wine as a medical necessity and to stop drinking plain water. For this reason pastors and deacons were not to be "beside wine" or partakers of "much wine." These men could drink diluted wine as long as it did not impair their judgment.

Excursus on 1 Timothy 3:3
KJV "not given to wine"; NIV "not given to drunkenness"; NASB "not addicted to wine";
NKJV "not given to wine"; ESV "not a drunkard"; HCSB "not addicted to wine"

Definitions of Paroinos
BDAG – “drunken, addicted to wines”
Thayers– “given to wine, drunken”;
Exegetical thoughts
The definitions of paroinos offer a few exegetical possibilities:
This word may tell us that a man is not qualified for the office of a overseer if he is beside wine (This of course is the simplest rendering of the word.).
This word may also tell us that a man is not qualified for the office of a overseer if he spends time beside wine (regularly drinking alcohol as a beverage).
The leadership of the OT (kings – Proverbs 31:4, and priests– Leviticus 10:9) were supposed to abstain while performing the duties of their office

Application thoughts
It is clear that leadership of God’s people ought to be extremely careful as to what they consume so that they are not impaired from doing their office.

It is strongly encouraged that any man who is to be qualified for ministry be able to demonstrate that he is not one that is "given to wine." One very good way to do this is to have a commitment to abstain from all alcoholic beverages which is easily accomplished in our modern world (cited from Chris Anderson).

Pastor Mike Harding

Offline
Since 6/30/09 10:23:44
484 posts
Why Abstinence for Christians

5. Christians should act responsibly concerning their personal testimony and influence.

a. Alcoholic beverages today are much stronger than those of the biblical era and thereby much more likely to produce impairment of judgment and drunkenness. Today, 5 ounces of wine equals 12 ounces of beer which equals 1.5 ounces of whiskey, approximately three times the alcohol contained in an 8-ounce cup of diluted wine in NT times.

b. Alcoholic beverages today provide no spiritual benefit but have the realistic potential for harm. Paul cites the Corinthian motto, "Everything is permissible," and then counters, "but all things are not beneficial" (1 Cor 10:23-24). Paul is condemning libertarianism and advocating that we do that which is spiritually beneficial, constructive, and good. As a matter of Christian witness we should not do anything that could seriously jeopardize our witness to others. Many lost people expect that Christians should not drink. Others who have been victimized by alcohol-related crimes are extremely sensitive to this issue. They might conclude that social drinking Christians are callous and out of touch with the real world. Our concept of freedom should not allow us to participate in activity that has been so injurious to millions of people in the world. Also, our own lifestyles will influence others both outside our home and particularly inside our home. Children will likely follow the example of their parents in alcohol related matters. People have to eat, but they do not have to drink in modern society. Social-drinking is purely a choice and not a compulsion. It is a choice that is offensive to some and deadly to many.

c. Alcoholic beverages today could lead to sinful slavery. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, "but I will not be mastered by anything." Modern alcoholic beverages are extremely addictive. The easiest way for believers to obey this verse is to abstain unless medical necessity compels it.

d. Alcoholic beverages today will more than likely cause others to spiritually stumble (Phil 2:4; Rom 14:19-21). "It is better not to ... drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall."

e. Alcoholic beverages today have greater potential of drunkenness and thus are more closely associated with the unsaved life (1 Cor 6:9ff; Gal 5:19ff). The mind is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not alcohol (Eph 5:18).

f. We should appropriately treat the human body as the temple of God (1 Cor 6:19-20). Our bodies our God’s workmanship. Alcohol consumption subjects God’s temple to unnecessary risks which far outweigh the benefits (Centers for Disease Control, http://www.ede.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm). One can receive the benefits of grapes by grape juice today or special vitamins which capture in concentrated form the benefits of large amounts of wine (20/20 ABC News, April 2008, Barbara Walters, “Long Life”).

g. Alcoholic beverages today are easily and regularly abused and lead to other forms of wickedness. "And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink . . . They are confused by wine . . . They totter when rendering judgment" (Isa 28:7). Alcohol abuse is a causal factor in 70% of drownings/chokings, 50% of “freak accidents,” 27,000 deaths per year via liver disease, 30% of suicides, 20% of airplane crashes, 50% of fire deaths, and alcohol contributes to 500,000 injuries per year. Alcoholics outnumber all other addicts. Approximately 77% of all high schoolers use alcohol and nearly 30% drink heavily. Amazingly, over 40% of 8th graders drink. About one in ten of all drinkers will become alcoholics. In addition, 45% of all homeless people in America are alcoholics (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

According to national surveys, alcohol is a contributing factor in 65% of all murders in the USA, 40% of assaults, 35% of rapes, 55% of domestic violence, 60% of child abuse, 60% of traffic fatalities (Scott Williquette, “The Christian and Alcohol,” Sola). Interestingly, during Prohibition (1920-1933) many social ills in America decreased such as cirrhosis (66% drop), disorderly conduct (50% drop), and the rate of increase in homicide was actually higher before Prohibition than during it (US Government “Wickersham Commision Report” at www.druglibrary.org.). In addition to all of this, regular consumption of alcohol increases one’s chance of heart attacks, cancer, birth defects, insanity, impotence and sterility. In light of the above I don't believe drinking modern alcoholic beverages as a beverage is an option for Christians except when in circumstances similar to those encountered by NT Christians in the early church era. Even then the same precautions should be taken now as were taken then.

6. Abstention from using alcohol as a beverage is not legalism.

The Apostle Paul refuted legalism when he said, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1; cf. 15:5, 24). He also said, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law . . . ?” (Gal 3:2). Legalism is the belief that one can gain God’s favor by keeping divine or human laws, whether for justification or sanctification–the belief that grace can be merited by good works (see Rom 4:5; Titus 3:5-7). In general God forbids “strong drink,” and modern alcoholic beverages today qualify as strong drink. Applying Scriptural principles to our culture which is significantly different than ancient cultures is not legalistic either. We do so out of our love for God and our fellow man.

Conclusion

Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Do not merely look out for your own interests but also for the interests of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 also reminds us, “Whether, therefore, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” There is no glory to God in the willful pursuit of pleasure that has no regard for one’s influence or effect upon others. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Cor 10:34). How many of you would fly is you knew that there was a 1 in 10 chance the plane would crash? The chances that the moderate drinker will become an alcoholic is 1 in 10; the chance that the moderate drinker will become a problem drinker is 1 in 3 (“A Plea for Total Abstinence,” The Evangelical Beacon, Nov. 13, 1979. p. 2).

Furthermore, if you abstain from alcohol as a social beverage, you can encourage others to forsake illegal stimulants such as marijuana, heroin, or cocaine without fear of inconsistency. Our joy need not come from a alcoholic stimulant. On the contrary, “in Thy presence is fulness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps 16:11). God wants His children to have peace without unnecessarily risking that we go to pieces. The liberated mind-set of the Corinthians did not help their church, nor will it help ours.

“Certain neighbors of mine laugh at me for being a teetotaler, and I might well laugh at them for being drunk, only I feel more inclined to cry that they should be such fools” (Charles H. Spurgeon, John Ploughman’s Pictures, p. 42, [Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, rep. 1974 ]; also see C. H. Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore (Moody Press, 1984), pp. 181-83, which details the turning of young Spurgeon from alcohol to total abstinence).

Pastor Mike Harding

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.