Sword of the Lord blasts new BJU Press book on alcohol.

Any reaction to the Sword of the Lord's front page article criticizing Randy Jaeggli's book "The Christian and Drinking" published by BJU Press? Sword editor Shelton Smith says of Jaeggli, "He is an academic, and he has approached this from what he believes to be a scholarly angle. There are, however, some serious issues with his approach. . . . We believe his linguistic analysis is subject to other interpretations which would place his entire thesis in dispute. Consequently, we do not recommend Dr. Jaeggli's book for any purpose! It is, we believe, a dangerous book that will cause many to stumble. . . . He does not . . . even have one single quote by the great men of God who have thundered so loudly about the use of alcohol." Smith also says, "I . . . phoned Dr. Stephen Jones, the president of Bob Jones University, but at press time he had not returned my call." Here are some samples of the excerpts given in the article from the book: "God intended His people to view alcoholic beverages as a blessing from His hand, just as they appreciated all agricultural products from the land He had given." (p.27) "Paul does not forbid drinking wine, only drinking to excess." (p.29) "Just like the Old Testament words for alcoholic beverages, the New Testament words 'oinos' and gleukos' refer to an alcoholic beverage that must be used in moderation." (p.41) "Since the Bible does not condemn drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation, could a believer enjoy a glass of his favorite vintage in the privacy of his home and not be ensnared by worldliness? Could he drink wine with dinner at a friend's home? Could he enjoy a pitcher of beer while watching a football game with his friends at the local sports bar? Since 'the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof' (Ps. 24:1; I Cor. 10:26) why not enjoy a cold brew? These are issues that every Christian needs to settle by wisely applying biblical principles." (pp.68,69) What would Bob Jones, Sr. and Billy Sunday think of such tolerent thoughts on the subject of temperance? Did Smith take them out of context? (I haven't read the book yet. I bet the Sword's exposure will increase sales!)

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T Howard's picture

Quote:
We believe his linguistic analysis is subject to other interpretations which would place his entire thesis in dispute.

Fine, Dr. Smith, provide your differing linguistic analysis and let people decide for themselves.

Quote:
He does not . . . even have one single quote by the great men of God who have thundered so loudly about the use of alcohol."

So what?! We should live by "thus sayeth the Lord," not "thus sayeth [insert "great man of God" ]."

Charlie's picture

Quote:
What would Bob Jones, Sr. and Billy Sunday think of such tolerent thoughts on the subject of temperance?

I can pretty well guess, but I don't see the relevance. Bob Jones, Sr. was no careful theologian (though I think of him as a good man), and Billy Sunday was no great man of God. We could stack up pastors, ranters, and theologians on each side and have a quote war, but I hardly think it would prove anything.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

From what I understand, brother Randy defends and promotes the position of abstinence in his book. So, I am not sure why there is such a fuss.

T Howard's picture

Is it beause he actually disproves the standard arguments that "the great men of God who have thundered so loudly" have used?

Ed Vasicek's picture

We have to make up our minds as to whether we are into Sola Scriptura or the traditions of men -- even fundamental and evangelical men. Sounds like where know where the loyalties lie for the Sword of the Lord.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jay's picture

I haven't read SotL since I was in high school and haven't really agreed with it for a long time, so it doesn't faze me at all. I am surprised that Jaeggli is coming under such criticism, though - he's a first rate OT scholar. All this controversy really motivates me to do is to go out, buy about 30 copies, and give them away to friends ;).

Dr. Smith's academic credentials [posted http://www.swordofthelord.com/biography.htm here ] aren't really on the same level [IMHO ] as Dr. Jaeggli's.

"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

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

Here is a quote from Bob Jones, Sr.'s biography "Builder of Bridges" written by R. K. Johnson:

"[Bob ] Jones declared that there 'never was a baser lie hatched in hell,' than that a man has a right to take a drink of whiskey if it pleases him to do so. After one fiery denunciation which stilled the audience into a dead silence, he burst forth with this picture of the home of a saloonkeeper: 'He builds his home out of human tears and uses life-blood for mortar. The plastering on his walls is made from the lining of human stomachs. In his shop of hell he hardens human brains out of which to make tile for his bathroom. The carpets on his floors are the linings clipped from the coffins of the dead and woven into fabrics of blood. His window curtains are widows' weeds, colored by a demon brush, dipped into liquid fire. His home is lighted by the smile of a baby and the luster of a mother's eye, stolen by his own hands from his neighbors' homes. The flowers about the place are roses of beauty plucked from the cheeks of the innocent. His pleasure fountains are tears of woe distilled in the house of despair. The music by which he dances is the wail of the widow and the cry of the orphan ground by the hand of the devil from hell's awful organ, and every demon keeps step to the music. . . . You have got saloon men in Gloversville who have built their homes out of the whiskey business and every time they step into their bathrooms they walk on the tiles built of human brains. I'd rather live in a cabin in a desolate swamp, than in a palace built of money out of the tears wrung from the orphans of this country. I'd become a "highway robber" before I'd go into the liquor traffic and damn human lives.'" (pp.77,78)

The main objective (on my part) of this thread is to try to determine whether or not BJU's position on alcohol has changed (as Shelton Smith claims). Here is the position of BJU's founders: Any consumption of alcohol is a sin condemned by the Word of God.

Does BJU now hold to this position: Although the Bible does not clearly condemn the consuption of alcoholic beverages, the Bible does condemn drunkedness, and total abstinance is always the wisest choice for the Christian?

A change from the former statement to the latter would be a big shift of position. If such a shift has taken place, it is only a matter of time before the phrase "total abstinance is always the wisest choice for the Christian" is removed and social drinking is accepted (if not on campus, then at least in the students' lives at home).

My hope is that Shelton Smith has taken Jaeggli's quotes out of context and that BJU Press would never publish a book which would in any way Scripturally allow for drinking alcoholic beverages.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I really do not believe that BJU has changed. They hold to a position of abstinence which is the position they have always held. Dr. Bob Sr.'s comments are typical of preaching during the era of prohibition. Did you ever see the hymns the churches sang during this era? Have we compromised or changed because we took all of those hymns out of our hymnals? Dr. Jaeggli simply wrote and honest, scriptural examination of the issue.

Interestingly, even during that era and beyond, many of these preachers who preached abstinence in America tolerated their friends in the ministry in places like Europe who often held to a position where they would have a glass of wine. At least this is what I have always understood.

T Howard's picture

C. D. Cauthorne Jr. wrote:
"[Bob ] Jones declared that there 'never was a baser lie hatched in hell,' than that a man has a right to take a drink of whiskey if it pleases him to do so. After one fiery denunciation which stilled the audience into a dead silence, he burst forth with this picture of the home of a saloonkeeper: . . . You have got saloon men in Gloversville who have built their homes out of the whiskey business and every time they step into their bathrooms they walk on the tiles built of human brains."

Where's the use of Scripture? All I see here is hyperbole.

This is the kind of blustering for which fundamentalism is famous. This same speech is given time after time, only the subject changes from alcohol to rock music to pants on women to KJV-onlyism, etc. The problem with this type of "thundering" is that it's not based on the Word.

When someone (like Jaeggli) actually deals with the Scriptures and points out what God's Word actually says, then the cries of treason or compromise come. Again, typical blustering fundamentalism.

Charlie's picture

Jay, I don't see that much of an academic prestige difference between a ThD from Midwestern and a PhD from BJU. Although, knowing both men, I am quite sure Jaeggli is by far the better scholar.

C.D., I think there are many people at BJU who would hold to both of the positions you described, and this recent publication by Jaeggli leans toward the latter. However, any consumption of alcohol is a consumption offense, so they practically hold the first position. This is a little off-topic, but I am a bit miffed at BJU for expelling a Reformed student for drinking alcohol in her home church's communion! That is abstinence run wild.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

Diane Heeney's picture

Charlie wrote:
This is a little off-topic, but I am a bit miffed at BJU for expelling a Reformed student for drinking alcohol in her home church's communion! That is abstinence run wild.

Bro Charlie,
This seems unbelievable. Is there some sort of verification for this statement, please? I can't help but think that if she was indeed expelled, there was much more to this... KWIM?

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Charlie's picture

Diane Heeney wrote:
Charlie wrote:
This is a little off-topic, but I am a bit miffed at BJU for expelling a Reformed student for drinking alcohol in her home church's communion! That is abstinence run wild.

Bro Charlie,
This seems unbelievable. Is there some sort of verification for this statement, please? I can't help but think that if she was indeed expelled, there was much more to this... KWIM?

In the case that I know of personally, after expressing a strong desire to stay at BJU and affirming that she had been totally abstinent in every other way, they compromised by putting her on spiritual probation, a status that restricts many privileges and includes weekly spiritual counseling sessions. Those counseling sessions included instruction on why her church was wrong.

I have heard of similar situations where that option was not offered or accepted, but I am not able to verify those to the same degree.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

John Benzing's picture

C. D. Cauthorne Jr. wrote:
Does BJU now hold to this position: Although the Bible does not clearly condemn the consuption of alcoholic beverages, the Bible does condemn drunkedness, and total abstinance is always the wisest choice for the Christian?

A change from the former statement to the latter would be a big shift of position. If such a shift has taken place, it is only a matter of time before the phrase "total abstinance is always the wisest choice for the Christian" is removed and social drinking is accepted (if not on campus, then at least in the students' lives at home).

There is no absolute logical nexus in your statements here. There is nothing in the abstinence is the wisest position that impels "social drinking."

LydiaH's picture

Quote:
Here is a quote from Bob Jones, Sr.'s biography "Builder of Bridges" written by R. K. Johnson: "[Bob ] Jones declared that there 'never was a baser lie hatched in hell,' than that a man has a right to take a drink of whiskey if it pleases him to do so.
God bless you, Dr. Bob, Sr. You were not perfect, but you always preached the truth.

It always makes me so very sad to see a debate on the consumption of alcohol. Such new revelation has come about in the last 20 years. We've become so enlightened since the internet. Wow. I can just imagine having this chat with some of the alcoholics at the Greenville Rescue Mission back in the 1980's. "Don't mind me while I drink this beer -- I know that you have a little problem with self-control, but I don't. Now, open your Bible to Proverbs ...." (Please don't even say "that's different" and talk about the need to be careful around the weaker brother ...). Anyone who argues against total abstinence from alcohol has never ministered to alcoholics. I mean -- lived with them, wept with them, listened to their stories and watched them foam at the mouth, and cry in horrific pain for a drink. Alcoholics will take their groceries to the bootlegger to sell them for that social drink that they are craving for so badly. What power alcohol has over the body! The Bible tells us that. Every alcoholic that I ever ministered to had a story that always began with one little drink. Many of them ended with "one" little drink ... too many.

Total abstinence is always the wisest choice for the Christian (and we are not talking about the medicinal use of alcohol). Always. In our hearts, we know that. God's Word tells us that and the Holy Spirit confirms it in our heart. How can I discern who is the next Christian brother who will wrap his car around a telephone pole or worse yet, around somebody's child who just happened to be bicycling down the road? This Christian brother might have his first social drink after he silently reads on this Christian blog (or some other one) that it is "not really wrong" to drink alcohol socially? Am I not my brother's keeper?

We sit at our computer desk -- reading and commenting on this topic, bouncing around whether the Bible teaches for or against the use of alcohol. This blog is read by young Christians. Young Christians with young children. We are building a precedent. There is no debate. I will always tell anyone, scripturally, that it is NOT wise to drink alcohol. Let the Holy Spirit sort it out in their hearts.

Respectfully,

Lydia

Charlie's picture

LydiaH wrote:
Quote:
Here is a quote from Bob Jones, Sr.'s biography "Builder of Bridges" written by R. K. Johnson: "[Bob ] Jones declared that there 'never was a baser lie hatched in hell,' than that a man has a right to take a drink of whiskey if it pleases him to do so.
God bless you, Dr. Bob, Sr. You were not perfect, but you always preached the truth.

It always makes me so very sad to see a debate on the consumption of alcohol. Such new revelation has come about in the last 20 years. We've become so enlightened since the internet. Wow. I can just imagine having this chat with some of the alcoholics at the Greenville Rescue Mission back in the 1980's. "Don't mind me while I drink this beer -- I know that you have a little problem with self-control, but I don't. Now, open your Bible to Proverbs ...." (Please don't even say "that's different" and talk about the need to be careful around the weaker brother ...). Anyone who argues against total abstinence from alcohol has never ministered to alcoholics. I mean -- lived with them, wept with them, listened to their stories and watched them foam at the mouth, and cry in horrific pain for a drink. Alcoholics will take their groceries to the bootlegger to sell them for that social drink that they are craving for so badly. What power alcohol has over the body! The Bible tells us that. Every alcoholic that I ever ministered to had a story that always began with one little drink. Many of them ended with "one" little drink ... too many.

Total abstinence is always the wisest choice for the Christian (and we are not talking about the medicinal use of alcohol). Always. In our hearts, we know that. God's Word tells us that and the Holy Spirit confirms it in our heart. How can I discern who is the next Christian brother who will wrap his car around a telephone pole or worse yet, around somebody's child who just happened to be bicycling down the road? This Christian brother might have his first social drink after he silently reads on this Christian blog (or some other one) that it is "not really wrong" to drink alcohol socially? Am I not my brother's keeper?

We sit at our computer desk -- reading and commenting on this topic, bouncing around whether the Bible teaches for or against the use of alcohol. This blog is read by young Christians. Young Christians with young children. We are building a precedent. There is no debate. I will always tell anyone, scripturally, that it is NOT wise to drink alcohol. Let the Holy Spirit sort it out in their hearts.

Respectfully,

Lydia

I beg to differ, Ma'am. My family has been involved in prison and addictions ministries since I was a child. During college, I assisted a pastor in a low-income, drug and alcohol infested area. Much of my extended family is alcoholic. I have done hundreds of hours of street witnessing and rescue mission preaching, where I dealt constantly with addicts of all sorts. One of my grandmothers was killed by a drunk driver, and the other smoked and drank herself to death. I am about as aware of alcohol as people get without having fallen into it themselves.

On the other hand, I fully support the right of the individual to drink in moderation, because what I understand Scripture to say takes precedence over what my experience tells me. On that note, when in Fundamentalism, all the people I knew who drank drank to excess. Now that I am in a denomination where many people, including my pastors, elders, and seminary professors, drink moderately, I have seen first-hand that it can be done is being done daily by thousands of good Christians.

Also, the moderationist position is as old as church history records. No one (intellectually responsible) doubts alcohol was drunk by Old Testament saints, Jesus, and the early Christians. There is a legitimate debate concerning when and how much it was diluted. On the other hand, the "temperance" movement is a truly new phenomenon that has only occurred in the last few centuries and only really taken root in North America. Your comment about new revelation in the last 20 years is both demeaning (no one is claiming direct revelation) and historically ignorant (moderation is the vast majority report of Christendom).

For myself, I only drink the wine I get weekly in communion. My few run-ins with beer have left me with the impression that it is a foul drink.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

LydiaH's picture

Charlie wrote:
I beg to differ, Ma'am. My family has been involved in prison and addictions ministries since I was a child. During college, I assisted a pastor in a low-income, drug and alcohol infested area. Much of my extended family is alcoholic. I have done hundreds of hours of street witnessing and rescue mission preaching, where I dealt constantly with addicts of all sorts. One of my grandmothers was killed by a drunk driver, and the other smoked and drank herself to death. I am about as aware of alcohol as people get without having fallen into it themselves.

On the other hand, I fully support the right of the individual to drink in moderation, because what I understand Scripture to say takes precedence over what my experience tells me. On that note, when in Fundamentalism, all the people I knew who drank drank to excess. Now that I am in a denomination where many people, including my pastors, elders, and seminary professors, drink moderately, I have seen first-hand that it can be done is being done daily by thousands of good Christians.

Also, the moderationist position is as old as church history records. No one (intellectually responsible) doubts alcohol was drunk by Old Testament saints, Jesus, and the early Christians. There is a legitimate debate concerning when and how much it was diluted. On the other hand, the "temperance" movement is a truly new phenomenon that has only occurred in the last few centuries and only really taken root in North America. Your comment about new revelation in the last 20 years is both demeaning (no one is claiming direct revelation) and historically ignorant (moderation is the vast majority report of Christendom).

For myself, I only drink the wine I get weekly in communion. My few run-ins with beer have left me with the impression that it is a foul drink.

Beer, wine, and liquor are all foul drinks. They can only be consumed with an acquired taste for a desired effect. Therein, I have the problem.

As a Christian, I do not see that the Bible teaches me that I have the right to drink in moderation. I am a slave. 1Co 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. I believe that the body is what consumes the alcohol. It is not ours. God tells us to be content with food and raiment. I Tim 6:8 Wine wasn't mentioned.

I lived, personally, for several years with alcoholics. I witnessed to them. I won some to the Lord. I had Bible studies with them. I sat in preaching services with them. I went out in the streets to rescue them, but not with a glass of wine in my hand. The police brought them to me. Not one of them, while they were sober and in their right mind, would argue about their right to drink. My alcoholic, dying brother sold his last earthly treasure for another drink of alcohol (cheap wine was perfectly fine for him -- something -- anything -- including after-shave). Of course, he wasn't in his right mind. I learned to hate alcohol and its effects.

I am fully aware what the OT and the NT says about wine. I am aware of the debate about the the strength of the wine. But I have the preserved Word of God in my hand. The Bible interprets itself and I am dependent upon that truth. This is not an intellectual battle for me. This is the working out of an application to truth. I know that God does not contradict Himself.

Pro 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Pro 23:29-30 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

That is what I teach and will teach.

I often saw Bible professors of a particular denomination in the bars when I was an unsaved student in that denominational college in the 70's. They would sit by themselves, quietly drink their beers, and say "hello" to the students. This was a joke to the students. Even in this denominational, non-fundamental, non-conservative college, the students knew that this picture was simply not right. There was absolutely no show of respect or either there was an occasional "wow, that's really cool." Meanwhile, the students still drank themselves into a drunken stupor and stumbled off into the night.

I bolded your statements for emphasis. I can see through those statements where I sit and where you sit.

Isa 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Respectfully,

Lydia

Dennis Clemons's picture

Lydia, respectfully, your argument is the same type that the Rome uses to justify keeping priests unmarried. Rather than looking at the whole of Scripture to understand and fully comprehend God's mind in the matter, they take one or two passages and declare that marriage is completely off limits in contradiction to other passages. You have done the same here. It is contradictory to God's Word to teach total abstinence. However, to teach that moderation is acceptable and drunkenness is forbidden, reconciles all of Scripture.

When we find that the Scriptures seem to contradict each other, we should look for the position that reconciles them, not the radically conservative one that preserves the contradiction, which is what your perspective does.

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Seems to me there are three basic views on "the Bible and alcohol."
1) It's indisputably wrong to drink alcohol at all because the Scriptures are crystal clear (usually includes idea that there was "non-alcoholic wine" in ancient times)
2) Use of alcohol is strongly discouraged by biblical principle and sound application (usually includes the idea that there is some room for committed believers to see the issue differently)
3) Use of alcohol is completely a matter of conscience because only drunkenness is forbidden in Scripture

All three have been discussed at length previously at SI. You can find them in the archive.
As for Jaeggli (hope I've spelled that right), he is in #2. Abstains, believes others should also, does not believe in "two wines."

As for BJU, what Dr. Bob Sr. says in a sermon is not the same thing as an official university position, nor is what one writer expresses in a book.

Note: If you want to continue the discussion on the Bible and alcohol in general, it would be better do it here: http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-what-does-scripture-say-about-use-of...

Barbara H.'s picture

Back to the OP, it doesn't sound like the reviewer really read the book, or at least not very carefully. I haven't read it yet, but the reviews I have seen say the author recommends abstinence. The next to the last paragraph quoted in the OP are questions Jaeggli says we need to consider, not positions he is promoting.

I knew Dr, Jaeggli years ago when we attended the same church and I heard him teach Sunday School many times. I have no doubt he would approach the subject carefully and thoroughly.

I, for one, appreciate a scholarly approach. Years ago I heard a well-meaning preacher say that any time you see "wine" in the Bible it meant grape juice. That doesn't make sense and isn't intellectually honest (unless you consider fermented wine a type of grape juice.)