On the "requirement" to be a teetotaler

BikeBubba's boiling experiment

Verdict: it is extremely unlikely that this would have been done on a large scale anywhere around the Mediterranean.  It's not witnessed in Scripture or archeology, it uses too much wood, and it would be a lot of work for the purpose of getting scurvy and water-borne diseases instead of enjoying robust health by eating raisins and having a glass of wine.

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David R. Brumbelow's picture

I am honored you would read and consider “Ancient Wine and the Bible,” though I respectfully disagree with your conclusions. 

Boiled down grape juice (which keeps unfermented) was common in the ancient world (documentation is in the book), and is common today.  Buy it at Amazon.com: 

https://www.amazon.com/Alwadi-Al-Akhdar-Molasses-24-69-Ounce/dp/B001EQ4K...

By the way, I would recommend using fresh grape juice and a slow, rather than vigorous boil.  Also, the ancients had other common ways to provide unfermented wine throughout the year. 

I happily challenge anyone to fairly compare the information in “Ancient Wine and the Bible.”  I think the documentation in the book will hold up well. 

While you may disagree with my view on abstinence, it is a historical fact that both fermented and unfermented wine were widely available in ancient times. 

David R. Brumbelow

Bert Perry's picture

David, first of all, when you've got zero examples of this kind of thing in the Scripture, I'm sorry, but I cannot consider your book well sourced.  Same thing with archeology--we see wine vats, wine presses, and the like, but not places to boil down grape juice.  Reality is that most of your sources are 19th century temperance advocates and 20th century fundamentalists, people who really have an axe to grind in this regard.  Really, even when you claim to quote the ancients, it's coming through this filter.

Pretty much everybody else agrees that the general sense of "wine" as an alcoholic beverage is correct.  I find this case far more persuasive when I consider the factors I mentioned.  Boiing wine to make a syrup not only gives you Kool-Aid, but is a tremendously expensive, difficult, and dangerous way of getting scurvy and water-borne disease.  More or less, I've come to view the writings of many of the prohibitionists as mostly an exercise in wishful thinking in light of this, often deriving from their simple inexperience with any society but their own.  When you've got safe drinking water and an abundance of energy sources, it sort of makes sense--but Israel didn't have these.  

That is, as well, my perspective regarding your link to the grape molasses.  Today, juice concentrates are made with a vaccuum pump (to lower the temperature needed) with extremely careful temperature control (my dad sold control equipment for Foxboro), and using fossil fuels for energy.  That's a far cry from standing by an open fire in August and burning the wood you'd want to bake bread in December, to put it mildly. Plus, it seems to be only popular among Muslims.  

There is simply no comparison, and even many Muslims don't go for this.  In Iran,  there are even now thousands of small, underground wineries making Shiraz-style wines--even after well over a millenium of Islam, people acknowledge the truth of Luke 5:39.  I used to work with a guy who enjoyed them growing up in Iran.   It is also well known that when many wealthy Arab "Muslims" come to the United States, they imbibe--my step-father's uncle described in detail a party with several members of Jordan's royal family, for example.  

So to argue that people favored a cool-aid like drink.....sorry, I'm going to go with what our Lord said in Luke 5:39.  There can be great reasons to abstain, but the idea that most wine in Bible times was not alcoholic is not among them.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

"For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.  What!  Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?"  (I Corinthians 11:21,22a)

I wonder what kind of wine they were drinking?  Grape juice or alcoholic?  I wonder why Paul didn't just say, "You know you are not supposed to be drinking alcoholic wine"?  Instead, he tells them to drink their alcohol at home rather than at church.  Hmmm.  Just wondering.

I am an abstainer.  I personally recommend it as the wisest course to follow.  But my conscience will not allow me to twist Scripture to require something the Scriptures clearly do not require.

G. N. Barkman

Steve Davis's picture

Isaiah 25:6 The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.

There may be a way to make this other than what the text clearly indicates. I will be disappointed if it is Welch's grape juice. I understand the concerns, the abuse, and see daily in my work as a certified drug and alcohol counselor the ravages of drugs and alcohol. All God's gifts - wine, sex, food, etc. - can be abused. I do not see a biblical case for abstinence although people may have good reasons to abstain - family history of alcoholism, etc. Those reasons, while good for them, are not binding on others. Bu we shouldn't twist a "Don't be near those who drink too much wine" (Prov. 23:30, NIV) or "Do not get drunk with wine" (Eph. 5:18) into prohibitions to never drink wine. Some people will do well to never drink wine. Others will do well in enjoying God's gift. 

 

WallyMorris's picture

Once again, Fundamentalists reveal how culture is shaping beliefs rather than Scripture and common sense. To make the Bible say something it doesn't in order to support abstinence is unnecessary. But to use 1st century beverage practices to justify consuming today's alcoholic beverages is also unnecessary and unwise. I am bothered by the growing number of Fundamentalists who are now justifying alcohol use, reflecting the influence of our culture masked by an appeal to Scripture. Today's alcoholic beverages are not "God's gift" but a curse given to us by modern society. What Muslims or anyone else are doing is irrelevant. With so many safe choices for beverage use, why any Fundamentalist would consume alcoholic beverages is astounding. The heart is deceitful and unpredictable. The next generation of Fundamentalists, our children and grandchildren, will reap the results of the changing attitudes and practices of Fundamentalists on alcohol consumption. At a time when we need to be focused on the great opportunities our degenerating culture is giving us for the gospel, far too many Fundamentalists are preoccupied with their "right" to drink wine. Amazing.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Once again, Fundamentalists reveal how culture is shaping beliefs rather than Scripture and common sense. To make the Bible say something it doesn't in order to support abstinence is unnecessary. But to use 1st century beverage practices to justify consuming today's alcoholic beverages is also unnecessary and unwise. I am bothered by the growing number of Fundamentalists who are now justifying alcohol use, reflecting the influence of our culture masked by an appeal to Scripture. Today's alcoholic beverages are not "God's gift" but a curse given to us by modern society. What Muslims or anyone else are doing is irrelevant. With so many safe choices for beverage use, why any Fundamentalist would consume alcoholic beverages is astounding. The heart is deceitful and unpredictable. The next generation of Fundamentalists, our children and grandchildren, will reap the results of the changing attitudes and practices of Fundamentalists on alcohol consumption. At a time when we need to be focused on the great opportunities our degenerating culture is giving us for the gospel, far too many Fundamentalists are preoccupied with their "right" to drink wine. Amazing.

With all due respect, Wally, there aren't that many "safe" beverages out there--ask anyone outside the U.S. or Canada (or from Flint MI) about the water, and ask the Mayo Clinic about any sweet beverage (including juices)--let's not forget that diabetes and heart disease kill far more people than does alcohol.  The difference is close to a factor of ten, brother.  You want to act against something that's killing fundamentalists that goes into their mouths?  Let's talk about the Super Big Gulp and the Old Country Buffet, brother.  Let's talk about Jell-O salads and the plate of fried chicken at the church potluck.  Let's talk about gluttony. 

And along those lines, the Bible's instructions for alcohol parallel those for food; moderation.  Gluttony is sin with food, and drunkenness is sin with alcohol.  No more, no less.  Now given that Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23 that man made rules are of no value in restraining sensual indulgence--they leave the rule-maker worse off than he was before--by what logic do we assume that our rules are going to be more effective in stopping alcoholism than God's teaching against drunkenness?  Is the Bible our sole rule of faith and practice?  Do we really believe Sola Scriptura?   If we do, I think we've got to abandon our man-made rules in this and many other areas.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dan Miller's picture

I like that opening, Bert, "With all due respect..." 

Even though conviction-wise I agree with Bert and BikeBubba (whoever that is), I'm writing here with the intent of challenging Bert. I find that when we write things like "with all due respect" often the writer is just about to dis-respect his brother. 

I think that Bert and BikeBubba's arguments are sound. And GNB, Steve, etc. BUT Wally is not denying their validity as much as their importance. He is weighing the dangers of alcohol and finding himself convicted not to drink. Is a Big Gulp also dangerous - sure. Is gluttony also a sin? Sure. 

My point: When I encounter a conviction that I don't personally share (like Wally's abstention) I might tend to see it as a challenge to my own freedom: "If he's right, I must be wrong." This type of thinking is unbiblical and counterproductive. We should see Wally's conviction not only as a possibility, but also as a beautiful expression of God's grace in his life. We tend to fail to see the beauty of these convictions in others. 

Joeb's picture

Biblically Bert's arguments are spot on.  It is an individual conviction.  The only qualifier would be if you used alcholic beverage  in the presence of a brother who has weakness in this area or would greatly offend a brother.  Lots of over weight people going to church and slugging down sodas and burgers and fried chicken yet no one ever points that out as being a sin.  Bert I heard 90 % of type 2 diabetes is caused by being over weight    Correct me if I'm wrong but people don't try to cut weight for a cure they get pills or insulin from their Doctors.  Now I also agree with Wally some of us are all to a certain extent preoccupied with justifying are participation in certain things that are worldly ie drinking music movies TV shows divorcing and remarrying. Personally if my wife passed away I would never remarry unless the Lord ran me over with a bulldozer and made it extremely clear that was his will.   Saw my father make a big mistake in this area.  I would not want to repeat his mistake.  

Bert Perry's picture

Dan, I am "Bike Bubba".  Here's how the nickname got started.  

Point well taken on that phrase.  I meant it more as "I emphatically disagree", but I see your point.

On the flip side, there is a point where a Romans 14 or 1 Cornithians 8 conviction becomes sin, and that's when we start to contradict Scripture in defending our convictions.  If Scripture says wine is a blessing--and it repeatedly does--by what Biblical logic do we call it a curse?  Isn't it sin to contradict the Bible?  

I can go with a number of abstentionist arguments, but contradicting Scripture crosses a line where I can no longer call it a conviction, let alone a beautiful one.  We are to be conformed to His image, not the other way around, no?   I'm OK with abstaining for the sake of those who cannot be moderate--with alcohol or certain foods, even--but a line is crossed when we call God's blessings curses.

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TimG's picture

It seems that any serious discussion on wine in the Bible needs to reconcile the Bible’s negative message utilizing the term “wine” with its use of the same word in an apparently positive light. Psalm 104:15 speaks of God making wine to gladden the hearts of men and Isaiah 25:6 speaks of a great end-times feast at which death is destroyed, man feasts on choice morsels and wine aged over the lees. Does God giveman a pass on what Christians today call “social drinking?” Social drinking might be defined as the process of consuming inebriating beverages while maintaining the mental faculties to do so “responsibly.” You might sense the tension and apparent conflict of this position. With each drink of intoxicating substances comes a release of the very inhibitions needed to maintain sobriety. Yet the Bible speaks favorably of wine. How can this be?

Words have more than one definition. This is not to say that “wine” can in any way refer to mere grape juice. But there is another solution. Consider whether the term “wine” might have similar usage to our word “drugs.” If a man says, “I picked up some drugs at the pharmacist,” vs. “I picked up some drugs from this dude in the alley,” the same word denotes two related yet distinctly different substances. What two substances might have been intended in antiquities by the term “wine?”

Consider this statement at the close of a historical text (not a Scripture text), 2 Maccabees 15:39, “For as it is hurtful to drink wine or water alone; and as wine mingled with water is pleasant, and delighteth the taste: even so speech finely framed delighteth the ears of them that read the story. And here shall be an end.” How is this insightful? From the perspective of an ancient, devout Jew, neither substance, wine nor water, should be consumed alone, but each mingled with the other. Now ask yourself this, what would you call wine mixed with water once the two had been mixed. Would you ask your guests if they wanted “wine mixed with water,” and then direct a server to go pour two cups of “wine mixed with water?” Or, if you were a devout home that believed wine should never be consumed alone, would you just refer to it as “wine” and presume rightly that your guests would know what you meant by your reputation and standing as an upright, sober individual? The best understanding of “wine” in the Bible is that it can either refer to wine mingled with water or straight wine that is intoxicating. 

From a scientific perspective, does mingling wine with water accomplish anything? A peer reviewed medical journal article published findings in 1995 showing that white wine eliminated deadly bacteria in 12 hours and red wine in 24 hours when either substance was mixed 1 to 8 parts with water. The same tests were repeated with ethanol and tequila and neither substance worked, proving that more than just any alcohol is required. (For easy reference, referenced in this "prepper's" article here: http://www.prep-blog.com/2014/08/25/purifying-water-with-white-wine/)

It also seems the Bible refers to "mingled wine" as something very potent and thus very negative such as in Isaiah 5:22. While Provers 9:2,5 refer to Lady Wisdom mingled wine and must surely be in keeping with the spirit of the Maccabean quote above. Any thoughts as to whether my thinking is going in an illogical direction here?

 

Bert Perry's picture

...but on the chance it is of interest, here's Mayo on diabetes.  As Joe notes, weight is the #1 correlation, and that Super Big Gulp comes in because you can get upwards of 500 calories in those 44 ounces with an attendant insulin spike doing "not nice" things to your pancreas.  

Back to the topic, and per Tim's comment, the seeming ambiguity about the Bible's teaching about wine is paralleled by what the Bible teaches about sugar (Proverbs 25:16 on honey) and even work (Proverbs 23:4); moderation.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

  • Drunkenness is always sin
  • Some are convinced one way
  • The others convinced another
  • Ancient advice #1: "[Don't] "quarrel ... over disputable matters." (Romans 14:1)
  • #2 : "Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?" (Romans 14:4)
  • #3: "be fully convinced in [one's] own mind" (Romans 14:5)
  • #4: "stop passing judgment on one another" (Romans 14:13)
  • #5: "Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister." (Romans 14:13)
  • #6 (the place of privacy): "whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God" (Romans 14:22)

 

TimG's picture

Jim wrote:

  • Drunkenness is always sin
  • Some are convinced one way
  • The others convinced another
  • Ancient advice #1: "[Don't] "quarrel ... over disputable matters." (Romans 14:1)
  • #2 : "Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?" (Romans 14:4)
  • #3: "be fully convinced in [one's] own mind" (Romans 14:5)
  • #4: "stop passing judgment on one another" (Romans 14:13)
  • #5: "Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister." (Romans 14:13)
  • #6 (the place of privacy): "whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God" (Romans 14:22)

 

True enough for issues that aren't clearly taught in Scriptures in an ancient culture that understood clear biblical teaching. But item 1 is the reverse of begging the question... it assumes the issue was unclear at the time and in the culture in which the Scriptures were written. My question is whether the Scriptures weren't crystal clear and that drinking a mind-altering quantity/concentration of alcohol would then be sin. Period.

I can appreciate the fact that gluttony is a sin, in one sense, as drunkenness is a sin. But my friends haven't lost their lives to sugar addicts. I haven't watched marriages destroyed by sugar. I don't see children in sub-first-world conditions going hungry while their parents consume their paychecks on sugar. The social costs of alcohol to societies has been vastly different.  Having watched Christian women who were shy young ladies at one point in their lives later destroy their marriage through sexual promiscuity with a neighbor or an acquaintance while under the influence of alcohol puts alcohol, in inebriating quantities, under a difficult category. 

Items 2-6 stem from what might be a faulty conclusion of categorizing these matters under your theological category of "disputable matters" which might not be the thrust of what Romans 14:1 was saying in the first place. Obviously, we are disputing. Does that place the matter under your theological category of "disputable matters" and thus off-limits to biblical teaching? Others dispute over gay marriage. Some over homosexual clergy. Some over legalized "herbal relaxants" (pot). My JW relatives dispute over the deity of Christ. The presence of disagreement/dispute does not place a topic off limits. 

 

Jim's picture

One who is well known to both of us (and a known fundamentalist who is a board member at Central) has concluded:

http://www.plbc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Alcohol-and-Membership.pdf

It is quite impossible to make a clear case for saying that drinking wine is always sin! ...

In the history of Christianity alcoholic prohibition is relatively recent. The use of alcohol was fairly normal even in the colonial era and among the Puritans. During the 1700s and 1800s Baptists, including ministers, own and operated stills and tithed their produce. In 1896, influenced by the Temperance Movement, the Southern Baptist Convention officially denounced alcohol and urged churches to excommunicate members to used or sold it. Other Baptist groups followed suit and then scrambled to find biblical texts to support their convictions. 

As a Baptist congregation, we affirm the historic Baptist distinctives. I find it a bit incongruous to say, “We agree that the Bible is the only and infallible rule for faith and practice for the believer” and then go on to insist that our members abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage.

The church covenant is to be an instrument that unites rather than divides the congregation. We could put every other line of the covenant to a church vote and expect 100% agreement. This would not be the case with the line in question [in the church covenant]. Truth is not determined by consensus but by revelation. It is expected that Christians will affirm what the Bible clearly states. It is not certain that Christians will unanimously affirm what certain Christians in particular places and times deem to be true.

The historic Baptist position on alcohol remains unchanged in Europe but was greatly influenced by the Temperance Movement and Prohibition fever here in America. In the years leading up to the passage of the Volstead Act 1/17/1920, many Baptists rewrote their views on Bible interpretation in a rush to scrub all positive references to wine in their Bibles. One leading voice, Dr. Charles Foster Kent of Yale was actually hired to rewrite the Bible, removing all references to wine. Prohibitionist passions ran so hot that one spokeswoman, Helen Gougar, said, “If I believed that Christ, knowing the nature of intoxicating wine… justified this use by His example, I would repudiate Him as a savior.”

I agree with Pastor Muri on this 

 

TimG's picture

Pastor Muri presents a fine argument from historical theology in the 2nd millenium AD. My argument goes back a bit further prior to the time of Christ and is what we call a primary historical reference that lands directly between the two testaments. These aren't my words, but the words of a devout Jew to the effect that neither substance should be drunk alone but one mingled with the other. I would hold up my primary historical reference to his later-dated references as equally reliable if not more reliable into the ancient mindset.

Please understand that I am not arguing against the use of alcohol-content wine. Only arguing against the use of it in inebriating potency. Mingle it 1 to 4 with water or 1 to 8 with water and I have no quarrels. The Bible everywhere commends sobriety. And many among us only need a small wineglass of wine to relax inhibitions. 

My ignorance shows here. But I wonder if that same glass of wine mingled with 4-8 glasses of water (still drinkable, though it seems one would be water-logged) would have the same effect of releasing inhibitions.

 

 

TimG's picture

And what makes the Maccabean reference to wine so powerfully insightful is the fact that it is not a didactic passage addressing wine. He is making a statement that assumes consensus among his audience (devout Jews) and builds on that to make a clever ending to his writing. He cannot be accused of advancing some agenda. He is saying, "just as neither wine nor water should be alone, neither should fine speech and brevity be alone. Each should be mingled with the other."

- BTW, this would probably be good advice for my preaching... and my blog posts Smile

In any case, the writer is clearly drawing on a point common to his culture/audience and using it to turn a phrase into a clever ending. Look at ancient passover texts and instructions for the Eucharist. I believe you will see wine mingled with water. I believe this was the context out of which the usage of wine arises among the devout.

Bert Perry's picture

TimG wrote:

 

Jim <snip>

<Timsnip>

I can appreciate the fact that gluttony is a sin, in one sense, as drunkenness is a sin. But my friends haven't lost their lives to sugar addicts. I haven't watched marriages destroyed by sugar. I don't see children in sub-first-world conditions going hungry while their parents consume their paychecks on sugar. The social costs of alcohol to societies has been vastly different.  Having watched Christian women who were shy young ladies at one point in their lives later destroy their marriage through sexual promiscuity with a neighbor or an acquaintance while under the influence of alcohol puts alcohol, in inebriating quantities, under a difficult category. 

No debate that drunkenness--as defined in Scripture--is not a disputable matter.  But just for curiosity's sake, I googled what portion of car accidents are due to medical events (usually heart attacks, diabetic seizures, etc..), and found that it may be 5-10%.  That would be up to 3-4000 traffic deaths per year--and for reference, I've personally assisted as an epileptic crashed (slowly, thankfully) into a tree. Nowhere near as many as the ~10,000 traffic deaths related to alcohol, and it's often harder to tell when it's a heart attack or such (no clear smell like whiskey), but it does in fact happen.

But regarding gluttony and obesity, obesity kills about 300k per year, and heart disease about twice that amount.  My grandfather, at about 5'8" and 220 lbs, was one of them, and it came close to ending my dad's time in college. Dying half a year before your pension is vested will do that.  Going further, if we look closely at the "organ recitals" (health concerns) we hear each Wednesday at prayer meeting, apart from cancer it's mostly the consequences of overweight and gluttony, and even a fair number of cancers (colon, breast) are linked.  

We react more to sins of drunkenness really because (a) they are not generally ours and (b) the consequences are more immediate, not because they are more severe.  Gluttony and sloth kill far more people than does overindulgence in alcohol.  Plus, if we want to teach about gluttony and a proper attitude towards work, we end up at the very same place we might go to discuss drunkenness--Proverbs 23.  I think Solomon, at the urging of the Spirit, did that for a reason.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Here's a table for calculating blood alcohol content for your weight and sex.  The symptoms described in Proverbs 23 end up at about 0.15%-.2% BAC, in my view.  For a man my weight--210 lbs--that's 8-10 beers, two bottles of wine, or about eight to ten  shots (12-15 oz) of hard liquor.  Divide that by two to be below the legal limit for driving.

Put gently, one does not need to dilute an ounce of wine with four ounces of water to be, Biblically and legally speaking, sober.  Both Biblical and legal standards are set up for when a person is seriously impaired.    You might also conclude--as does any partier at a school like my alma mater--that if drunkenness "sneaks up" on someone, hard liquor is generally going to be involved.  Otherwise getting drunk will simply take too much work, and quite frankly too many trips to the bathroom. 

I am all for teaching, Biblically and practically, about the dangers of drunkenness.  I do it with my kids.  My dad did it with me, and the hard liquor warnings (and how to spot a party where it was flowing freely) were quite valuable.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TimG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

 

TimG wrote:

hmmm... http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm 

MADD, FADD etc. throw around stats of over 60% auto fatalities alcohol related.

Jim <snip>

<Timsnip>

I can appreciate the fact that gluttony is a sin, in one sense, as drunkenness is a sin. But my friends haven't lost their lives to sugar addicts. I haven't watched marriages destroyed by sugar. I don't see children in sub-first-world conditions going hungry while their parents consume their paychecks on sugar. The social costs of alcohol to societies has been vastly different.  Having watched Christian women who were shy young ladies at one point in their lives later destroy their marriage through sexual promiscuity with a neighbor or an acquaintance while under the influence of alcohol puts alcohol, in inebriating quantities, under a difficult category. 

 

 

No debate that drunkenness--as defined in Scripture--is not a disputable matter.  But just for curiosity's sake, I googled what portion of car accidents are due to medical events (usually heart attacks, diabetic seizures, etc..), and found that it may be 5-10%.  That would be up to 3-4000 traffic deaths per year--and for reference, I've personally assisted as an epileptic crashed (slowly, thankfully) into a tree. Nowhere near as many as the ~10,000 traffic deaths related to alcohol, and it's often harder to tell when it's a heart attack or such (no clear smell like whiskey), but it does in fact happen.

But regarding gluttony and obesity, obesity kills about 300k per year, and heart disease about twice that amount.  My grandfather, at about 5'8" and 220 lbs, was one of them, and it came close to ending my dad's time in college. Dying half a year before your pension is vested will do that.  Going further, if we look closely at the "organ recitals" (health concerns) we hear each Wednesday at prayer meeting, apart from cancer it's mostly the consequences of overweight and gluttony, and even a fair number of cancers (colon, breast) are linked.  

We react more to sins of drunkenness really because (a) they are not generally ours and (b) the consequences are more immediate, not because they are more severe.  Gluttony and sloth kill far more people than does overindulgence in alcohol.  Plus, if we want to teach about gluttony and a proper attitude towards work, we end up at the very same place we might go to discuss drunkenness--Proverbs 23.  I think Solomon, at the urging of the Spirit, did that for a reason.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Bert:

I once arrested a drunken sailor who had a 0.435 BAC - verified by blood analysis. This has nothing to do with this topic, but I felt compelled to share this amazing fact. I defy anybody to beat that.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

TimG wrote:

Pastor Muri presents a fine argument ... 

TimG: Would you concede this ...

  • It sounds like some at Parker's Lake Baptist drink wine. (I know that when I was a member there some did [and it wasn't me!])
  • Some (probably the majority) are total abstainers (I know this to be true)
  • So at Parker's Lake some drink and some do not
  • So for them (that set of believers) it is an area of disagreement. A disagreement / difference of opinion is similar to a dispute

I suggest that Romans 14 provides some advice for them. This is my point above.

I presume you manage to fellowship with Pastor Muri even though you disagree with him? Right!?

Bert Perry's picture

Tyler; no, thank you, especially since .3 and up is generally lethal.  Somebody was very lucky to be alive.  

One other thing to add about the dilution topic is Isaiah 1:22--your choice wine is diluted--which would suggest that at least some people liked to drink it straight.  I do not know whether this was about the former plenteousness of wine and a paucity at the time, or whether people could drink wine straight because they didn't go to the bathroom near their wells (like most gentiles, sigh), or what, but it introduces all kinds of questions.

Which is a nice way of sneaking into a "thank you" to TIm for his comments from Maccabees--hopefully he repents of that Romish book (ha), but the argument from example is well taken, as is the CDC link.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Isn't Isaiah 1:22 a statement about judgment conditions?  In other words, isn't diluted wine presented here as an undesirable consequence of disobedience to God, and hence God's judgment?  Isn't Isaiah saying that an economic downturn, the result of God's judgment, will force them to drink diluted wine?  Doesn't this indicate that when God's blessings abounded, they did not drink diluted wine?  Doesn't this indicate that for the Jews of Isaiah's day, undiluted wine was the norm, the desired condition, and diluted wine was only practiced when hardship required it?  Just asking.  Perhaps I have it all wrong.

G. N. Barkman

TimG's picture

You both bring up a great question from Isaiah 1:22 and this is the one and only text that I have found that argues against my position with absolute consistency in the entirety of the Scriptures. Every other text I have examined, if interpreted through a wine-mingled-with-water paradigm fits perfectly. Except this one.

The Hebrew verb is mahal which means watered down, diluted. It is followed by a preposition that typically means “by/in/with” and the noun “water.” Put together = "diluted with water" and it is clearly a bad thing in Isaiah's mind. Why would this be a bad thing if the social paradigm was that wine should be mingled with water? Is this akin to saying, “May your wine (that you are going to mingle with your water) be powerless, tasteless and unsatisfying?” That’s a difficult argument to make.

So my question of this text is whether this is a curse on your wine that says, “may your wine be impotent” or does it recognize mingling wine with water as a matter of economy during hardship and indicative of hardship, completely against the Maccabean and other testimonies that say wine mingled with water was the norm. I have to yield the high ground to you on this text for the moment. Every other text I've found fits except this one.

Dan Miller's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

...

On the flip side, there is a point where a Romans 14 or 1 Cornithians 8 conviction becomes sin, and that's when we start to contradict Scripture in defending our convictions.  If Scripture says wine is a blessing--and it repeatedly does--by what Biblical logic do we call it a curse?  Isn't it sin to contradict the Bible?  

I can go with a number of abstentionist arguments, but contradicting Scripture crosses a line where I can no longer call it a conviction, let alone a beautiful one.  We are to be conformed to His image, not the other way around, no?   I'm OK with abstaining for the sake of those who cannot be moderate--with alcohol or certain foods, even--but a line is crossed when we call God's blessings curses.

Indeed, Scripture calls wine a blessing. To call God's gift evil is a sin; that is the sin of blasphemy. But note that Romans 14:16 places a burden on those who are able to drink. They are to Take steps so that the unable don't blaspheme. Therefore, one can hold an legitimate conviction against alcohol with or without going on to blasphemy. 

Therefore, Paul knew that the unable would often (and unfortunately) possess universal-evil thoughts about his conviction, yet Paul still presented the conviction itself as the persuasion of his mind, order of his Master, and duty to follow. 

Lee's picture

Sooner or later this whole discussion boils down to a single concept: is drinking alcoholic beverages ever the same as drinking any other beverage or eating any other particular food? 

 

 

 

Lee

Bert Perry's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

 

...

<my note snipped>

 

Indeed, Scripture calls wine a blessing. To call God's gift evil is a sin; that is the sin of blasphemy. But note that Romans 14:16 places a burden on those who are able to drink. They are to Take steps so that the unable don't blaspheme. Therefore, one can hold an legitimate conviction against alcohol with or without going on to blasphemy. 

Therefore, Paul knew that the unable would often (and unfortunately) possess universal-evil thoughts about his conviction, yet Paul still presented the conviction itself as the persuasion of his mind, order of his Master, and duty to follow. 

Really, this very concept is why I wrote the original post, and a couple of follow-ups, as well.  Can we imagine any more loving thing for the brother laboring under false information than to give him what the Word actually says?  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Bert and others,

For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes.  -Psalm 119:83

The Bible does not speak in detail about how they dressed and preserved meat, but that no more means they only had rotten meat than that they were helpless in preserving various kinds of wine.  Scripture does not detail many of the skills of that day.  The above verse, however, alludes to some of this practice. 

Fire and cooking are often mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 22:6; Exodus 12:8; John 18:18; 21:9; Acts 28:2….).  Israel was more forested in that day (modern Israel is bringing that back). They certainly had the ability to boil wine. 

As to boiling wine in the ancient world:

“The caldron room, in which boiled wine is made, should be neither narrow nor dark, so that the attendant who is boiling down the must may move around without inconvenience.”

“The more the must is boiled down – provided it not be burnt – the better and the thicker it becomes.”

- Columella (4 BC-c. AD 70) a Roman.

Aristotle spoke of wine so thick it had to be scraped from the wineskin. 

Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – 370) often mentioned boiled wine. 

“With Vulcan’s aid boils the sweet must-juice down, and skims with leaves the quivering cauldron’s wave.” -Roman poet Virgil (70-19 BC). 

Patrick E. McGovern is a pro-drinking secular authority on ancient and modern wine. He said, “Concentrating grape juice down by heating is still used to make the popular shireh of modern Iran and was known to the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia as well as the Greeks and Romans. It enables fruit to be preserved, and, diluted with water, it produces a refreshing, nonalcoholic beverage.”  -Ancient Wine: The Search For The Origins Of Viniculture by Patrick E. McGovern, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003.

These quotes and many more, and more detail are given in “Ancient Wine and the Bible.”  Many Scriptures are discussed:

http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2014/10/scripture-index-for-ancient-...

David R. Brumbelow

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