Memo to the Old, Grumpy and Reformed: "Am to be impugned as worldly because I have a beer once and awhile?"

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Shaynus's picture

From the comments on the original article.

Shaynus wrote:

It looks like Dr. MacArthur wrote the article about a general teed-off feeling, then had an intern look up links to prove his point. This is the kind of stuff that's going to make YRR types not listen to him, and that's unfortunate. This reminds me of the whole "Darrin Patrick makes up his own theology" cerfuffle a few months ago.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/01/25/darrin-patri...

MacArthur misunderstands the writings of an A29 guy, jumps to conclusions, ticks people off, they don't listen to him. Repeat.

Shayne

Good persuasion seeks to first understand the audience, and JMac failed to do that well. Matched with his tone, he has turned off men on this subject who otherwise respect him. The Ordinary Pastor blog is a good critique of the critique.

Brenda T's picture

John MacArthur has been preaching this way since "ordinary pastor" was a toddler. But, I guess YRRs were too young to be offended then, so they'll get offended now. There's nothing new here. John MacArthur has had this view for the entire lifetime of YRRs. His recent blog post was simply an abridged version of what he's always taught, only this time he updated it with an illustration of beer instead of wine and he had the additional tool of using the internet to do that. YRRs should be impressed; this seemed like a contextualization of his 30+ years old messages.

Here are the sermons from 1978

http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/1936_Be-Not-Drunk-with-Wine-Part-1#...

http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/1937_Be-Not-Drunk-with-Wine-Part-2#...

http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/1938_Be-Not-Drunk-with-Wine-Part-3#...

Oh, and they come complete with study guides

http://www.gty.org/resources/Study+Guide+Chapter/1936_Be-Not-Drunk-with-...

http://www.gty.org/resources/Study+Guide+Chapter/1937_Be-Not-Drunk-with-...

http://www.gty.org/resources/Study+Guide+Chapter/1938_Be-Not-Drunk-with-...

Here's a quote from sermon #2

Quote:
The Bible does not say wine is forbidden, but it does say some things that help us to know what we should do.

jimfrank's picture

Robert Hughes coined a phrase some years ago with the title of his book "The Culture of Compliant." His premise was America is a nation of multiculturalists and each group is perpetually offended at other groups that don't share its views. There's a lot of truth to this thought. However, it may be more accurate to state that America is collection of 308 million perpetually-offended multiculturalists, and now each "offendee" has a blog to list his or her complaints.

If Erik Raymond is truly a long-time fan of John MacArthur, he shouldn't be surprised that MacArthur is against alcohol in all of its forms and is not afraid to say so. This blog entry, which could be called "I'm Offended at John MacArthur," reminds this writer of what one rather prominient radio personality describes as a "seminar caller." Every Sunday MacArthur steps behind the pulpit and in a straighforward manner tells his audience, "This is what the Bible says. Deal with it!" That's why I like him. He can get away with saying things that I can't say.

Sadly, perhaps Reformed Theology is now "the flavor of the day." John MacArthur was the flavor of the day back in the mid-Eighties. Oswald Chambers, Charles Stanley, Larry Crabb, and Bruce Wilkinson were once the flavors of the day. It may well be that in a year or two those Mark Driscoll seminar notes and Al Mohler's "He Is Not Silent" will be gathering dust on Erik's shelf next to "The Prayer of Jabez" and "Inside Out."

Who knows? Maybe A.W. Tozer will make a comeback? Then the "Young, Restless and Reformed" crowd will become "A Little Older, Still Restless, and Arminian."

By the way, I've more-or-less given up blogging. Three people read our blog, and two of them are the writers.

Fred Butler's picture

Shayne writes,
The Ordinary Pastor blog is a good critique of the critique.

No it wasn't. It was self-serving. The guy basically said that John dishonestly wrote that post up for the purposes of stirring up the Fundamentalists. Which is to say John has some other motive at hand other than a genuine pastoral concern about a troubling element within the YRR.

Shaynus's picture

Fred Butler wrote:
Shayne writes,
The Ordinary Pastor blog is a good critique of the critique.

No it wasn't. It was self-serving. The guy basically said that John dishonestly wrote that post up for the purposes of stirring up the Fundamentalists. Which is to say John has some other motive at hand other than a genuine pastoral concern about a troubling element within the YRR.

Did it fire up the fundamentalists? It seems it did. Never did he say Dr. M was being dishonest, just that he was factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric. Genuine pastoral concerns are great. But if MacArthur wants to be heard, he should know his audience better.

"If your opponent wouldn’t agree with the accuracy of your statement about their beliefs, then you should not say it." - Tim Keller

Larry's picture

Moderator

Update from GTY: http://www.gty.org/blog/B110815#.TkqOToLAyso

Quote:
Just in case you missed John’s point in the dust-up (not only in our comment thread, but in other playgrounds as well), here it is: It’s irresponsible and wrong for YRR leaders to make beer/wine-drinking one of the badges of the YRR movement. That’s it. So, if that shoe fits you, wear it; If it doesn’t, let it pass.

Fred Butler's picture

Never did he say Dr. M was being dishonest, just that he was factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric. Genuine pastoral concerns are great. But if MacArthur wants to be heard, he should know his audience better.

Shayne,
Did you miss the whole section when he compared John's comments to the 2004 speech by Zell Miller at the Republican convention? He then claimed Zell's speech was "red meat" for Republicans and filled with nothing but mischaracterizations that were "easily refuted." In essence, he is saying John's post is the same thing. Which means to say John is being dishonest with his accusations. They aren't meant to actually address a serious concern John has about the younger generation, but only meant for the sole purpose of whipping up Fundies.

Of course, you say he was "factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric" but no one has yet to prove this claim. Give me some examples.

Jay's picture

This author's complaint is disingenuous. He accurately identifies the gist of MacArthur's complaint:

Quote:
MacArthur’s point could be summed up in a couple of quotes:

If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.

For some who self-identify as “Young, Restless, and Reformed,” it seems beer is a more popular topic for study and discussion than the doctrine of predestination.

After all, in a culture where cool is everything, what could be a better lubricant for one’s testimony than a frosty pint?


And then 'refutes' MacArthur with the following claims:
* [He's ] irresponsible
* [It's ] 'red meat'
* [It's ] poor rhetoric
* [It's ] bad hermeneutics
* the old guys do it too

But he totally skips the point of MacArthur's article (after failing to deal with any of the scripture references or scriptural principles that MacArthur brings into play):

Quote:

Real Christian liberty is not about flouting taboos and offending conventional notions of propriety. The liberty in which we stand begins with full indemnity from the law's threats and condemnation—meaning we are at peace with God (Romans 5:1; 8:1). Christian liberty also removes the restrictions of the law's ceremonial commandments (Colossians 2:16-17)—freeing us from asceticism, superstition, sensuality, and "human precepts and teachings" (vv. 18-23).

But sober-minded self-control and maturity are virtues commanded and commended by Scripture; these are not manmade rules or legalistic standards. As a matter of fact, one of the main qualifications for both deacons and elders in the church is that they cannot be given to much wine. In other words, they are to be known for their sobriety, not for their consumption of beer.

So it sounds like the author is complaining that MacArthur thinks it's a bad idea to drink beer. That's not MacArthur's point at all - it's about associating themselves with debauched behavior in order to exploit their 'liberty' in Christ.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Shaynus's picture

Fred Butler wrote:
Never did he say Dr. M was being dishonest, just that he was factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric. Genuine pastoral concerns are great. But if MacArthur wants to be heard, he should know his audience better.

Shayne,
Did you miss the whole section when he compared John's comments to the 2004 speech by Zell Miller at the Republican convention? He then claimed Zell's speech was "red meat" for Republicans and filled with nothing but mischaracterizations that were "easily refuted." In essence, he is saying John's post is the same thing. Which means to say John is being dishonest with his accusations. They aren't meant to actually address a serious concern John has about the younger generation, but only meant for the sole purpose of whipping up Fundies.

Of course, you say he was "factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric" but no one has yet to prove this claim. Give me some examples.

Frankly Fred, there's a difference between unhelpful communication techniques and dishonesty. Apparently you don't get that difference. You also said "you" (meaning I) said he was "factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric." Read the sentence I wrote again please. I just don't think you read carefully, either my comments or the original articles.

Fred Butler's picture

Shayne writes,
there's a difference between unhelpful communication techniques and dishonesty.

Does anyone's words have any actual meaning anymore? I don't get that difference, I guess. If you are going to compare John's written concerns with a speech at a political convention, a speech that was allegedly "filled mischaracterizations" (I take that as meaning "half-truths" or "half-lies") for the sole purpose of being "red meat" for the political base, and say John was doing the same thing in his article; I take that to mean John isn't entirely sincere about what he wrote. There had to be an underlying motive. That being, according to the author, to be "red meat for fundamentalists." I take that as clearly meaning he thinks John's overall article is dishonest. If the guy had meant to say John is using unhelpful communications, then he needs to say that. The illustration he used was unhelpful in communicating his intention if such is the case.

Still waiting for you to provide those examples of John's factually wrong sweeping generalizations.

Shaynus's picture

Fred Butler wrote:
Shayne writes,
there's a difference between unhelpful communication techniques and dishonesty.

Does anyone's words have any actual meaning anymore? I don't get that difference, I guess. If you are going to compare John's written concerns with a speech at a political convention, a speech that was allegedly "filled mischaracterizations" (I take that as meaning "half-truths" or "half-lies") for the sole purpose of being "red meat" for the political base, and say John was doing the same thing in his article; I take that to mean John isn't entirely sincere about what he wrote. There had to be an underlying motive. That being, according to the author, to be "red meat for fundamentalists." I take that as clearly meaning he thinks John's overall article is dishonest. If the guy had meant to say John is using unhelpful communications, then he needs to say that. The illustration he used was unhelpful in communicating his intention if such is the case.

Still waiting for you to provide those examples of John's factually wrong sweeping generalizations.

I'm still waiting for you to tell me where I said he was factually wrong or had sweeping generalizations. I said the author said that. You twisted my sentance and left off the part where I said the author said that.

Fred Butler wrote:
Of course, you say he was "factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric"

What I really said was

Shaynus wrote:
Never did he say Dr. M was being dishonest, just that he was factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric.

Should I say you're being dishonest by misquoting me? No. I genuinely think you are misreading me, and not reading carefully. I don't judge your motives in this mistake. Once you can demonstrate that you can really read what I'm writing and not jumping to conclusions, I'll be happy to engage with you. But not before.

Here's the difference between dishonesty and unhelpful style. I'm a political junkie (that's my degree at least). I remember Zell Miller's speech at the RNC. He was a Democrat speaking to Republicans about the downfall of the Democratic Party in the south. I have it in my iTunes and iPod. I own and have read his book, "A National Party No More." Zell Miller uses political rhetoric designed to evoke an emotional response from old time Southern Democrats and New South Republicans. If there were factual errors (which I don't know of, and it's not the point), I think it's fair to not judge Miller's motives as dishonest, but rather misguided. Dishonest? No. Rhetoric written to evoke a certain emotional response among followers? I think so. What I can't prove (and neither does Ordinary Pastor try to) is John MacArthur's heart of dishonesty. I don't think he is being so. I think he's honest and upright, he just needs a rhetorical seat belt sometimes so he'll really be heard.

My heart is that YRR will hear him. But when MacArthur isn't careful in his persuasion, in really understanding and seeing the views of those he's talking to, he won't be heard.

Brenda T's picture

John MacArthur didn't say it was worldly; he said it was puerile and irresponsible. "Ordinary pastor's" rebuttal didn't prove otherwise.

Jim's picture

Brenda T wrote:
John MacArthur didn't say it was worldly; he said it was puerile and irresponsible. "Ordinary pastor's" rebuttal didn't prove otherwise.

Full quote is:

Quote:
It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants—especially in church-sponsored activities

I personally agree with this quote. It's a bad idea for Pastors to encourage people to drink!

Fred Butler's picture

Shayne writes,
Never did he say Dr. M was being dishonest, just that he was factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric.

I will let this be my last response and you can have the last word if you want it. I understand that you were quoting the author, but then you followed up this citation by saying, "Genuine pastoral concerns are great. But if MacArthur wants to be heard, he should know his audience better."

Two things here: First, the author has not proven his case. I asked you for specifics; he certainly didn't provide them. What is factually wrong, where are sweeping generalizations and what poor rhetoric? I understand you are agreeing with the author by saying John won't be heard because he doesn't care to know his audience, IOW, the guy is right when he accuses John of using factually erroneous generalizations articulated with poor rhetoric.

As to the Zell Miller comparison. I'm sorry, but the author used that illustration as a means to say John was just playing to a particular audience. I don't see any other way to take it as it stands in his article. That means John isn't sincere and is dishonest because he's writing to get an emotional reaction, not addressing a serious concern.

Brenda T's picture

In http://www.ordinarypastor.com/?p=253#more-253 ]another blog post , "ordinary pastor" wrote

Quote:
Jesus drank. Jesus had a reputation for drinking. . . . Alcohol, specifically wine, in the Bible is a gift of God to be enjoyed. . . . Alcohol also seems to be associated with divine favor, even a special blessing. . . . There are no Christian alcoholics, but there are Christians who used to be drunks!! . . . . people need to be converted, learn self-control and enjoy the good gifts of God, whether it is sex, food, a Sam Adams or a glass of Shiraz all to the glory of God. . . .

If my pastor said things like that, I would think he was encouraging me to drink.

Shaynus's picture

Fred Butler wrote:
Shayne writes,
Never did he say Dr. M was being dishonest, just that he was factually wrong, used sweeping generalizations, and poor rhetoric.

I will let this be my last response and you can have the last word if you want it. I understand that you were quoting the author, but then you followed up this citation by saying, "Genuine pastoral concerns are great. But if MacArthur wants to be heard, he should know his audience better."

Again, that I think MacArthur's points will fail to convince his audience due to his own lack of knowledge of them, does not mean I agreed with the author automatically. Really, I used your jumping to conclusions to illustrate the problem with making leaps in logic and fact. You don't really know what I was thinking until you asked. You assumed you knew what I was saying. You did the same as MacArthur in his research. Like MacArthur, you connect dots in this thread that don't connect. One could engage in bad rhetoric and not be dishonest. Pastors use bad or overly emotional rhetoric all the time, but that doesn't mean I think they're dishonest. Dishonesty includes the idea of intentionality.

My concern all along is with MacArthur's persuasive ability towards a younger generation. He's losing them. I think he has a lot of good he could do. That's what I'm getting at, not the specifics of the alcohol argument. MacArthur is the one who hasn't proved his case. He hasn't proved it because he's the one with sweeping generalities in his original article and tried to use Ordinary Pastor's website to prove it. From Ordinary Pastor:

John MacArthur wrote:

For some who self-identify as “Young, Restless, and Reformed,” it seems beer is a more popular topic for study and discussion than the doctrine of predestination.

Ordinary Pastor wrote:

Since I am linked in this sentence I have to assume he means people like me. This blog has been active since March of 2005. Since that time I have written over 1,500 articles, only a handful of which reference beer. If you calculate that out we are talking about the fact that .002% of my articles deal with beer vs well over 90%+ that talk about the gospel. (Never mind the silence of the other items on MacArthur’s naughty list)

So he is proving the point that MacArthur is linking to his site to prove that beer is a popular topic, when it isn't even popular on his own website. I think that's really telling. I think MacArthur probably had an intern, or Phil Johnson (Hi Phil!) google evangelical blog entries on beer and do a drive-by. Rather than really listening to and engaging this blogger, he uses him as a straw man. This is what I mean by saying he really doesn't know his audience. He knows caricatures of his audience. He's putting up a straw man, and beating it up easily. It's not so easy when you deal with the reality of pastors who allow for drinking in moderation. So I think this blogger proved his point. His point was that it's not a super popular topic on his blog, even though MacArthur made out that it was.

It's bad persuasion to write blogs like this. Jim Peet, who agrees with MacArthur, himself pointed out that the links used as support, didn't really pan out. http://sharperiron.org/filings/8-9-11/19790 ]Check the other thread

Jay's picture

What about the other people that MacArthur referenced or that we discussed on the original Filings thread? Or about this description of "Ordinary Pastor":

Quote:
The blogger who calls himself "ordinary pastor" who posted about the newspaper editor's beer fast wrote of himself on another post "I am 32 year old pastor. I am a Calvinist and I love the gospel of Christ. I have multiple tattoos and am sketching another right now. I am comfortable wearing my 14 gauge earrings, flat bill, suede Adidas, grunged out jeans. I drink almost exclusively English imported Beer (St. Peter’s and Boddingtons are favorites). "

Does this sound like a guy who is serious about life and ministry, or a guy who is interested in being cool?

Here's http://www.whatwouldjesusbrew.co.uk/2011/02/standing-on-the-shoulders-of... another example as well:

Quote:
Right, I think its about time for another in our series looking at some of our heroes of the faith – the great brewers in Church History. This week its St Arnold of Soisson (also known as Arnoldus), one of the many patron saints of brewers and more particularly, the patron saint of hop pickers.

Arnie was born in Brabant c. 1040 and was in the armed forces for several years before jacking it in to become a monk (living the dream!). He tried the old hermit thing for a few years but he couldn’t be doing with all the sage and onion stuffing and so he ended up becoming the abbot even though he tried his best to refuse the job and did a runner. But a wolf convinced him to change his mind. If you read the hagiographies, blokes did that all the time (the refusing honour bit, not the wolf bit – thats quite original). It underlines their humilty.

Anyway, Arnie ends up becoming a full-on priest and in 1080 gets the gig as Bishop of Soisson. I don’t think he was that fussed about this job either because when another priest muscled in on his turf, Arnold just let him have the see and took the opportunity to pursue his retirement project.

He founded an Abbey in Oudenburg and immediately set about brewing. He encouraged the local people to drink beer instead of water because of its “gift of health”. That wasn’t just marketing guff – the water in those days was pretty rank and liable to give you something nasty llike dysentry, choleria, or the squits. Because it was boiled during the brewing process and the alcohol preserves it, beer was much better for you.

One of the miracles attributed to Arnold of Soissons relates to the time his abbey was badly damaged in a fire. Beer supplies were drying up and the locals were going mental. Things were getting bad and some of them had even started drinking water! Arnold prayed and the beer stores were miraculously multiplied. Everyone was was so chuffed, they wanted to canonise him there and then.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Shaynus's picture

MacArthur gave a comparison saying beer was more talked about than other serious matters. Linking to this blogger totally fails to make that case given the amount of posts Ordinary Pastor has posted. If you're going to make a comparison like that, you have to be able to back it up.

Shaynus's picture

His point about MacArthur's suits is interesting as well. Pastors can be fundamentalist cool or hipster cool. John Piper often looks frumpy. He is known for wearing the same beat up tweed jacket all the time for years.

Brenda T's picture

From the follow-up that Larry linked to in comment #6

Quote:
Looks like John MacArthur’s most recent article hit a nerve. He knew that before he wrote it—he knew it would offend some people—and yet he was still willing to write it.

I can hear some of you in the YRR crowd ask, “But why? Why would John risk alienating us, an enthusiastic group of young reformers?”

Simple. John thinks you’re worth it. He cares, and he’s willing to say the things you might not particularly like, at first blush anyway.

Of all the people who roam the vast fields of evangelicalism, you YRRers appreciate straight talk. You are right to be suspicious of those who pitch candy-coated messages in pretty packages. That’s not John. He’ll never tickle your ears, and we know that’s why you’re still listening.

Steve Newman's picture

Doesn't that say something about us....like how much we desire to be part of "the herd" and receive the praise of men?

Brenda T's picture

There's a 45-minute audio clip of a radio program that interviews Phil Johnson regarding this controversial post by John MacArthur. Yes, that's a little lengthy, but if you're going to listen to it, you need to listen to the entire program. It answers all the criticisms from the YRRs and it also encourages those who agree with MacArthur to not take this as a "John MacArthur says it's a sin to drink."

http://www.gty.org/Blog/B110816#.Tku3MWHKiSp

Jay's picture

I think it's interesting that Jesus died to make us a distinct people (I Peter 2:9-12, Romans 12:1-2), and we can model that distinction by mocking the world's styles in our speech, dress, and behavior.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Where are the good points, Shane? It reads to me like this guy is doing exactly what people claim MacArthur is doing. There is no evidence that I see that he properly understands what MacArthur said. He responds to points that I don't recall MacArthur making. He accuses MacArthur of saying things that he didn't say. In fact, he proves MacArthur's point at least in part, because he comes out swinging hard and denouncing legalism just as MacArthur said some would, so perhaps MacArthur understands these guys more than they want him to.

For instance, I don't see anywhere that MacArthur says drinking any beer is a sin (though he may believe that, I don't know). Perhaps I missed it. What he does say is that it is puerile and irresponsible to encourage drinking, particularly at church functions. Is there really any debate about that? Regardless of whether or not we think a Christian can drink, should we actually encourage people to do so, knowing we might be encouraging them to violate their conscience and open up their lives to a destructive force? Is there really anyone debate that these things, whether one participates or not, are not what Christians ought to seek to be known for?

It seems to me that many of these people do wear their freedom on their sleeves, almost like a Jr Hi'er who is bragging about it. The reality is that it shouldn't matter.

After writing this, I listened to the Paul Edwards show which interviews Phil Johnson. At the beginning of it, Paul reads from Eric's blog (the other guy) which says essentially the same thing MacArthur says.

Here's the link to the Paul Edwards/Phil Johnson interview: http://www.gty.org/Blog/B110816#.TkwxoYLAysr

Charlie's picture

Larry wrote:

For instance, I don't see anywhere that MacArthur says drinking any beer is a sin (though he may believe that, I don't know). Perhaps I missed it. What he does say is that it is puerile and irresponsible to encourage drinking, particularly at church functions. Is there really any debate about that? Regardless of whether or not we think a Christian can drink, should we actually encourage people to do so, knowing we might be encouraging them to violate their conscience and open up their lives to a destructive force? Is there really anyone debate that these things, whether one participates or not, are not what Christians ought to seek to be known for?

Yes, Larry, there is debate about that. The church I last attended had alcohol at various (not all) church functions. We also had it in the Lord's Supper that we celebrated weekly. Now, if by encourage, you mean put pressure on people to drink when they don't really want to, then no. No one should do that, and I never had that happen to me. In our Lord's Supper, we had grape juice in little cups for people who abstained from alcohol.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Shaynus's picture

1. On Tone and Rhetorical syle

Quote:

This is exactly the route MacArthur takes. Thus, he begins his post by speaking of “beer,” but can’t get beyond a few sentences before he switches to the pejorative, “booze”—an old phrase which has specific reference to drunkenness. MacArthur then retains this association the rest of the way through the post. Drinking is no longer considered by itself, but only with associations like “booze,” “controlled substances,” “society’s seamy side,” “ambience of a pool hall,” “casino,” “intoxicants,” “alcoholism,” “drug abuse,” “addiction,” “fleshly desires,” “deadly spiritual dangers,” “damage,” “Bohemianism,” “Sodom,” “flouting taboos,” “fleshly lusts,” “unfettered indulgence,” and “bondage.”

2. That if it is irresponsible to tell your congregation to drink alcohol, then how might one explain this part of Deuteronomy? I think it's at least a good question.

Quote:

During the great fast of tabernacles, for example, God suggested the ancient Israelites buy wine or strong drink (should they so desire it), but He demanded they buy it with their tithe money (Deut. 14:26). And just in case some teetotalers may have traveled back in time and invaded the ancient scene, God made sure in this verse to sanctify not just “wine” (which may or may not have been very high in alcohol content), but also “strong drink”—a substance indicated by a Hebrew word which is also the uncontested basis for the Hebrew word “drunkenness” (shekar, shakar).

Larry's picture

Moderator

Charlie, Is there really debate about encouraging people to do things that violate their conscience and may lead them to drunkenness? I find that hard to believe, but perhaps.

It seems to me that Paul is very hard on people violate their conscience or contribute to other violating their conscience. He is also very hard on those who cause other people to stumble. I think both are obviously valid concerns with alcohol, regardless of who may drink in moderation.

I suppose there is debate about just about everything. Perhaps I should have said legitimate debate. I would be interested in the other side of that argument, namely, that we should encourage people to violate their conscience and open themselves up to sinful drunkenness.

The mere presence of alcohol at church functions, while IMO both unwise and unnecessary for a lot of reasons, is not encouragement. It is unwise because of the danger it presents to people in your congregation, particularly if you have alcoholics in your midst who can be "caused to stumble" over it; when you have strong Christians drinking in the presence of weak Christians, it can cause the weak brother to think he can do it, and he risks going back to it. And that's not loving and wise. It is unnecessary because there are better options. But I would not say that the mere presence of something is not encouragement to do something.

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