What Does The Scripture Say About The Use of Alcohol?

This topic started in the FBFI Resolution thread, so let’s continue it here and explore it fully.

Some positions on this so far have been-

Mike Durning: Let me be clear. I do not drink alcohol. Never have. Never will.
I preach against it as strongly as the Scriptures permit. I wish I could find Scriptural authority for calling “using alcohol as a beverage” a sin. I believe, depending on attitude and intent, that a particular believer may be sinning by doing so, but I’m not sure there is enough Scripture to get us to calling it a sin outright.
Despite all the strong warnings in Scripture against alcohol, they generally seem to lean toward warning against abuse.
There are several troubling passages where use of it without abuse seems to be affirmed.
And, clearly, if the Lord had wanted to say “no intoxicating beverage”, He could have found some way to say so.
There are undeniably serious testimony issues that arise when a Christian consumes alcohol — enough that I think they SHOULD keep the modern Christian away from alcohol entirely. But that is a secondary consideration, and should be presented as such.
So I’m uncomfortable with the placement of “alcohol” on a list of other sins as though they are all set equal in God’s eyes.

Red Phillips: When I am in discussions with other conservative Christians, not necessarily inerrantists but people with a “high view” of Scripture, (usually Reformed, old school high church types, and traditionalist Catholics) they often bring up the absolute prohibition against alcohol among evangelicals and fundamentalists as proof that the self-proclaimed inerrantists add their own biases. Now maybe some of them have a dog in the hunt and like their alcohol a little too much, but it does make us look unserious and our inerrantists position suspect.

It is simply not credible that the Bible forbids all use of alcohol as a beverage. Alcohol was ubiquitous in the ancient world. It had to be. They had no refrigeration and didn’t always have ready access to potable water. What were they going to do? Go to their frig and get some Welch’s or go stick a few quarters in the Coke Machine? Carry a goat along to milk whenever the need arose? The new wine into old wineskins parable doesn’t make sense unless you understand fermentation was taking place. How long would fresh juice last in the hot Israel sun anyway?

This sort of obliviousness to historical reality makes us look bad. The Bible does prohibit drunkenness and in the modern age with all our alternatives it may well be wise to avoid alcohol altogether, but claiming the Bible prohibits all use of alcohol as a beverage hurts our credibility. I would not have included it in the list.

Pastor Marc Monte:The issue stems from whether you take a “one wine” or “two wine” position. One wine people see all wine in the Bible as alcoholic. Two wine people see some as alcoholic and some as grape juice—depending on words and context. I take the two wine view.

As for Randy Jaeggli’s book, “The Christian and Drinking,” I believe it is poorly written, confusing, and is a poor argument for abstinence. In fact, his argument for abstinence is so weak that—in my view—it actually supports the arguments of those who use alcohol in moderation. I have approached BJU about withdrawing the book, but they have refused to do so thus far.

As an example of Randy’s audacity, he claims that the wine made by Jesus at Cana was full strength, alcoholic wine. Even John MacArthur denies that! (If Jesus made and distributed full strength alcoholic wine, you have NO argument for abstinence—at least from the Bible.)

Larry: I think Monte’s appeal to Prov 20:1 doesn’t actually deal with Prov 20:1. That proverb speaks to those who are deceived by it. (The word probably “led astray” and can be used in other ways such as in Prov 5:19 of a man’s satisfaction with his wife which could hardly be described as “deceived,” though the next verse uses the same word, probably in an ironic way. In Isa 28:7, it’s only other use with wine I think, it clearly means intoxicated. So in Prov 20:1, its meaning with wine is probably “intoxicated,” but I will go with the KJV on this out of deference to Monte). A great many people who drink alcohol as a beverage are not deceived by it; they are not intoxicated by it.

Monte’s case about John 2 is another classic case of bad argumentation: “It can’t be real wine because drinking is prohibited.” That’s a bad argument. It assumes that your conclusion that drinking is completely forbidden is right. And then you have to write off all evidence to the contrary as really meaning something else. I doubt many wedding parties served grape juice in the first century. It may have been diluted, but it was impressive to the people at hand. Historically total abstinence as not been the position of the church (which means little to many, particularly those who hold a particular view of the Scriptures themselves). But it is at least something to consider.

Now, let me remind you as I said recently on my blog, I think drinking alcohol as a beverage is silly. I think it is unwise. I think it is unnecessary. I say that publicly and privately. I tell people “I don’t think you should drink and here’s why.” I have told people, ‘You cannot drink and remain a member of this congregation.” But the Bible does not give a clear categorical condemnation of it, and therefore we must tread lightly. Harding’s title “The Wrath of Grapes” is apt, and should be heeded.

So I am not making a case for drinking. I don’t want to and don’t need to. I don’t think you should drink. My point is about bad arguments.

Charlie: In the first century, people drank alcoholic beverages. Many people abused them. Timothy may serve as an example of some Christians who did, to a very large extent at least, abstain from drinking. Presumably it was to maintain face. I find it most telling, though, that our Lord did not choose to model this course for his people. Not only did he create wine at Cana, he certainly drank often enough that bigoted individuals could wrongly accuse him as a drunkard. Matthew 11:18-19 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

I believe the Lord’s Supper provides the context for a Christian understanding of alcohol. Jews drank alcoholic beverages as part of their religious festivals, with no indication that it was a shame, a disgrace, or a little “shaky.” One can make all sorts of baseless assumptions about the nature of the “wine,” but we all know what’s strong about “strong drink.” Deuteronomy 14:24-26 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire- oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

When the Lord’s Supper was instituted, Jesus certainly used real wine, keeping the Jewish tradition. The imagery of wine in connection with God’s saving work has OT roots as well. (Here again, grape juice hardly makes sense.) Zechariah 10:6-7 “I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them. 7 Then Ephraim shall become like a mighty warrior, and their hearts shall be glad as with wine. Their children shall see it and be glad; their hearts shall rejoice in the LORD.

What a beautiful way to teach! In the Lord’s Supper, we learn that alcohol is a good gift from God. It is for children, it is for adults, it is for men, it is for women. It makes the heart glad. In the church, Christians can learn to use alcohol without abusing alcohol, a line that Corinth seemed not to always get just right. Yet abstinence is not Paul’s solution 1 Corinthians 11:20-21 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.

Obviously, the 19th century introduction of grape juice in the place of wine was the result of an unbiblical attitude toward alcohol. Really, it was an affront to the history and practice of the church. Alcohol is in some ways like sex; the perversions of it have often fostered a “sex is dirty” attitude in the church that is the opposite of rejoicing in God’s gift to his people, within his boundaries. The Lord’s Supper instructs us on how to receive wine as it is - God’s gift.

Note: Obviously, the Lord’s Supper is not about alcohol; it is about Christ’s work on behalf of his church. Nevertheless, I believe that reflecting on it brings insight into the Christian’s relationship with alcohol.

 

 Bob T: First, the Hebrew scriptures portray wine in a very negative way. The warnings against wine are extremely strong and the effects of wine are seen as devastating. Abstinence is connected with special dedication and spiritual responsibility.

Prov 20:1
20:1 Wine Is a Mocker Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
NKJV

Prov 20:1
20:1 Wine Is a Mocker Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
NKJV

Prov 20:1
20:1 Wine Is a Mocker Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
NKJV

Prov 23:29-24:1

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.

31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly;

32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.

33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things.

34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:

35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

NKJV

Prov 20:1
20:1 Wine Is a Mocker Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
NKJV

Prov 23:29-24:1

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.

31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly;

32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.

33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things.

34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:

35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

NKJV

Prov 31:4-5

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink;

5 Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
NKJV

Prov 20:1
20:1 Wine Is a Mocker Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
NKJV

Prov 23:29-24:1

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.

31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly;

32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.

33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things.

34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:

35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

NKJV

Prov 31:4-5

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink;

5 Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
NKJV

Hab 2:15-16

15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!

16 You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also — drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the LORD’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.
NKJV

Special examples are given connecting abstanance from wine with special dedication to God.

Priests were not to drink wine when ministering in the temple (Lev. 10:9).

Daniel and his friends refused wine (Dan. 1).

Those under a Nazerite vow abstained from wine and strong drink (Num. 6:1-4)

Second, the strong warnings and restrictions in the Hebrew scriptures provide the basis for the prohibitions in the Christian scriptures.

John the Baptist, the Hebrew transition prophet, abstained from Wine and strong drink (Matt 11:18).

Church Elders were to not be given to wine (1Tim. 3:3).

Deacons were not to be given to wine (1Tim.3:8

The effects of wine are contrasted to the effects of being filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

In light of the nature and severity of the warnings and examples of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, we must consider abstinence from wine and strong drink as integral with any and all calls to spiritual commitment in the Christian church (Rom. 12:1-2).

From a life experience standpoint, as one coming from a non Christian home and lifestyle, having spent 4 years active duty in the Navy where I was converted to Christ, I cannot see the wisdom of any Christian seeking to find a place or allowance for alcoholic beverages in a Christians life. Past history of the churches, and present cultural allowances for such in Europe and other places, have been a factor in weaker testimonies and churches.

In American culture today, making allowance for alcoholic beverages can have many detrimental results. I have heard several teenagers who have made excuse for their drug use by stating that adults have a drug of their choice called alcohol. Use alcohol and you weaken the example and basis for your own children. We are asked to present our bodies as a living sacrifice at Rom. 12: 1-2. If the effects of alcohol on the body are contrasted to Spirit control at Eph. 5:18, how can we sincerely do that while seeking to ignore strong warnings of scripture regarding a thing and seeking to find the possible loopholes for that thing.

This will be SI’s One Stop Shopping for all discussions on this topic- Happy debating!

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dan's picture

Bob T. wrote:
Special examples are given connecting abstanance from wine with special dedication to God.
...
John the Baptist, the Hebrew transition prophet, abstained from Wine and strong drink (Matt 11:18).

And in Matt 11:19 Jesus Christ Himself stated that He did NOT abstain. That unravels the "special dedication" tapestry. John The Baptist was holier than Jesus?

Bob T. wrote:
If the effects of alcohol on the body are contrasted to Spirit control at Eph. 5:18, how can we sincerely do that while seeking to ignore strong warnings of scripture regarding a thing and seeking to find the possible loopholes for that thing.

The underlined portions constitute bearing false witness, in my opinion. The accusation of evil motives is clear: anyone who disagrees with you on this is intentionally searching scripture for a loophole to justify something they know is wrong. I suspect you know that is false.

__________

If drinking is silly, stupid, and unwise, what does that say about a God that specifically authorized the use wine and strong drink in Deuteronomy 14:26? Or a Messiah who publicly admitted that he drank?

"Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy."
G.K. Chesterton

NathanL's picture

For those of you who have time, check out these sermons by Gregory Barkman. He tackled this issue biblically a few years ago. They were far and away the most exegetically sound and biblically focused messages I've ever heard on the topic. He challenged himself and his church to hold true to the Fundamentalist principle of "the Bible as our only rule for faith and practice." Well worth the time it takes to listen to them. If you want my own "Nate's Notes" version, though, email me and I'll send you the notes I took when listening to them a while back.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=32502151724

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=480211416

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=2204151359

LydiaH's picture

Dennis Clemons wrote:
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.

I bolded your statement above for emphasis. Is that how theologians reconcile scripture? They throw out what they don't like.

I see that drunkenness is forbidden. I do not see that moderation is acceptable. What is moderation in drinking? Who decides the moderation? I do not see how one gets drunk unless one drinks. My argument is only for faithfulness to the authority of the scriptures. BTW, I do know that Jesus drank wine. What that wine was -- I will ask Him one day. But "until then," I will teach abstinence. I do not need to justify "a glass of wine" after my dinner meal. I might drink coffee. But there are no "Mothers Against Coffee Drinkers" Groups out there.

Aaron, thanks for your comments. They are well put and are well received. I see the conclusion that Randy draws in his book. I still like what Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said.

Respectfully,

Lydia
[br ][br ]

Note from Moderating team: Starting about here, several posts were moved to this thread from this one, when discussion moved more in the direction of the Bible and alcohol. Several of these posts refer to Randy Jaeggli's book The Christian and Drinking published by BJU Press.

Rev Karl's picture

LydiaH wrote:
I bolded your statement above for emphasis. Is that how theologians reconcile scripture? They throw out what they don't like.

I see that drunkenness is forbidden. I do not see that moderation is acceptable. What is moderation in drinking? Who decides the moderation? I do not see how one gets drunk unless one drinks. My argument is only for faithfulness to the authority of the scriptures. BTW, I do know that Jesus drank wine. What that wine was -- I will ask Him one day. But "until then," I will teach abstinence. I do not need to justify "a glass of wine" after my dinner meal. I might drink coffee. But there are no "Mothers Against Coffee Drinkers" Groups out there.

Aaron, thanks for your comments. They are well put and are well received. I see the conclusion that Randy draws in his book. I still like what Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said.

Respectfully,

Lydia


Miss Lydia,

With the greatest of respect, if you will allow me two observations:
1. Your comment is "Is that how theologians reconcile scripture? They throw out what they don't like." It appears that Mr. Clemons is trying to point out that a position for total abstinance does exactly what you believe the theologians are doing: throwing out the Scriptural passages (previously cited) that discuss the fact that - at least in the time of the Scriptures - consuming wine (without becoming drunk) was acceptable.
2. Your comment is "I do not see that moderation is acceptable." Philippians 4:5  "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."
To what is Paul referring here? Surely, he is not advocating "moderate sin." (Romans 6:15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.)
Is he he referring to Spiritual moderation? (No. cf: Ephesians 5:18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;)
Is he refering to financial moderation? (No. cf: 2 Corinthians 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.)
Is he referring to emotional moderation? (Maybe. cf: Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:)
I believe that Philippians 4:5 refers, at least in part, to the consumption of food and drink, including the wine that was common on every dinner table at the time.
Please note: I am not a "drinker". I do not drink socially. I have been known to have a bottle of alcoholic beverage in the house, because it was prescribed by a MD, as one part of a remedy for a severe and persistent cough. (The MD was an IFB Christian, and one of the practicing MD's at the IFB Christian college I attended.)
My intent in this discussion is not to advocate consumption of alcohol, but to reflect a complete and accurate comparison of Scripture with Scripture.

Endeavoring to speak the truth in love,

Rev Karl

Daniel's picture

Lydia, I am sure someone can explain it better than I, but what Dennis was saying is if you just take the more conservative approach, that is when other parts of scripture get thrown out.
I am not just talking about drinking. There have been many theologies through the centuries that have been wrong and even heretical for this reason. Take for example the Hypostatic Union. There is a 'contradiction' in scripture, some passages say Jesus was Divine, while others say He was human. So in seeking to reconcile scripture, they have either thrown out His divinity or thrown out His humanity, both of which are incorrect. In this case, the correct way to reconcile is to say He is both divine(100%) and human(100%).

And don't take this as arguing for or against consumption, I am just seeking to help explain what Dennis meant.

ChrisC's picture

LydiaH wrote:
Charlie wrote:
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.
i'm not trying to convince you that you should drink, but one day God himself will prepare a banquet for all peoples with the finest aged wine (Isaiah 25:6 NIV). Isaiah speaks of diluted wine as a curse (Isaiah 1:22), so i understand that it will be normal wine. so i don't see how good wine can biblically be described as a "foul" drink.

also, the "strong drink" of Deuteronomy 14:26 ESV is possibly an early predecessor to beer.

Mike Harding's picture

The Wrath of Grapes (my Hebrew and Greek fonts do not work here)
by
Pastor Mike Harding
Introduction:
Surveys show that a staggering 64 percent of Protestant lay persons socially drink alcoholic beverages. Nationally, about 60 percent of the USA population drinks alcohol recreationally (July 2007 Gallup Poll of 18 year-old and above protestant laity in the USA). Methodists were some of the first proponents of complete abstinence in the mid-1700’s. Southern Baptists have had a record of abstinence dating back to pro-abstinence resolutions as early as 1896 and as recent as 2006 (Richard Land and Barrett Duke, “The Christian and Alcohol,” Criswell Theological Review [Spring 2008, 19-38 ], p. 20). Why the sudden change? Broader social acceptance of drinking, a lack of preaching and teaching on the subject, the secularization of the church, and an increase independence among adult church members have all contributed to the toleration of the social use of alcohol consumption among Protestant church members. The societal cost of drinking has risen to $184 billion per year and is a factor in as many as 105,000 deaths annually in the USA (Land, p. 21). In a recent USA Today/HBO poll, 20 percent of Americans said that they “had an immediate relative who at some point had been addicted to alcohol or drugs” (Rita Rubin, “In Tim Ryan’s Family, He is the Addict,” USA Today, July 20, 2006). According to the same source, each addict negatively affects at least four to five people on a regular basis. Alcohol is commonly referred in the drug trafficking community as the “gateway drug.”
Understanding the Key Words
Key Hebrew Words
!yIy” (y¹yin) wine.
The word is used 140 times, 12 of these in combination with sh¢k¹r (KJV “wine and strong drink”; NIV sometimes “wine and beer”). Its intoxicating properties are mentioned at least twenty times. It is mentioned as a common drink, an element in banquets and as the material used in libation offerings. These are called “drink offerings” in KJV, NASB, NIV, etc., but they were not drunk. The related Hebrew verb (n¹sak) means “to pour out.” These offerings were poured out on the sacrifices upon the brazen altar (Exo 29:40 and Exo 30:9), but in sarcasm the heathen gods are spoken of as eating the food and drinking the drink offerings given them (Deut 32:38).
Abundance of wine, however, is taken as a symbol of affluence (Gen 49:11-12; 1Chr 12:40; Ezek 27:18). There are places that speak of the lift to the feelings that wine brings (Zech 10:7; 2Sam 13:28; Est 1:10; Ps 104:15; Eccl 9:7-10; Eccl 10:19; Isa 55:1). It may be questioned whether in these verses that wine is commended because of this lift or if the verses use the freedom from inhibition as a symbol of plenty and blessing–cf. Nathan’s reference to David’s polygamy as a symbol of God’s giving him great riches (2 Sam 12:8). Wine is also used in symbolic ways of the Lord’s wrath (Jer 25:15; etc.) of Babylon’s judgment (Jer 51:7) of violence (Prov 4:17) and of desire (Song 1:2; Song 4:10).
All the wine was light wine, i.e. not fortified with extra alcohol. Concentrated alcohol was only known in the Middle Ages when the Arabs invented distillation (“alcohol” is an Arabic word) so what is now called liquor or strong drink (i.e. whiskey, gin, etc.) and the twenty percent fortified wines were unknown in biblical times. The strength of natural wines is limited by two factors. The percentage of alcohol will be half of the percentage of the sugar in the juice. And if the alcoholic content is much above 10 percent, the yeast cells are killed and fermentation ceases. Probably ancient wines were 7-10 percent alcohol. Drunkenness, therefore, was of course an ancient curse, but alcoholism was not as common or as severe as it is today. And in an agricultural age, its effects were less deadly than now. Still, even then it had its dangers and Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23:29-35 are emphatic in their warnings. To avoid the sin of drunkenness, mingling of wine with water was practiced. This dilution was specified by the Rabbis, for the wine then was customary at Passover. The original Passover did not include wine (Deut 20:6) (W. Dommershausen, “Yayin,” TDOT, vol. 6, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990 ], pp. 64-65).

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

rk’ve (sh¢k¹r) strong drink.
This term means intoxicating drink, strong drink, or beer and is usually condemned (Isa 5:22; 28:7; 28:7; 28:7 56:12; Mi 2:11, Pr 20:1; BDB, p. 1016). Most likely it does not mean “liquor” for there is no evidence of distilled liquor in ancient times. It denotes not just barley beer but any alcoholic beverage prepared from either grain or fruit. In all but two of its twenty-three uses in the OT (Num 28:7; Psa 69:12) it appears in connection with yayin “wine,” usually following it, once preceding it (Prov 31:6) (TWOT, vol 2, pp. 926-27).
Other Hebrew terms for wine are tirosh (new wine), ‘asis (sweet wine), mimsak/mezeg (mixed wine with herbs), and shemer (aged wine) (A. R. S. Kennedy, “Wine and Strong Drink,” Dictionary of the Bible, rev. ed. [New York: Scribner’s, 1963 ] pp. 1038-39).

Key Greek Words
The key NT words for wine and strong drink are oinos, gleukos, and sikera. Sikera (strong drink) is used only once in the NT (Luke 1:15) for a grain-based alcohol or intoxicating beverage made from other sources of fruit. Oinos is used more than thirty times in the NT and usually refers to fermented drink. Gleukos (new wine or sweet wine) represented wine that was not fully aged or wine that had a higher sugar content (Wayne House, “Wine” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988 ]). Professor A. C. Schultz points out that “Usually the new wine was left in the vat to undergo the first fermentation which took four to seven days. It was then drawn off… . The whole period of fermentation would last from two to four months when the wine would be ready for use (“Wine and Strong Drink,” in Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5:938).
In general, the OT and NT terms for wine referred to the fruit of the vine usually in some stage of fermentation. Exceptions could be “sweet new wine,” fresh wine from the harvest (Isa 16:10; John 2), and diluted wine. This conclusion is based on the following arguments:

1. Lexical Consensus. The leading Old and New Testament lexicons and etymological dictionaries affirm that the major terms used of wine represent beverage at various stages of fermentation. The most important terms for the debate that are employed in Scripture are yayin and shekar (Hebrew), oinos and gleukos (Greek) [Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), pp. 406, 1016. Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), pp. 303, 716. BDAG, pp. 201, 701. Joseph H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), p. 564. See “wine” in The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), 2.3788. See also usage in etymological dictionaries by John M’Clintock and James Srong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, (Grand Rapids: Baker, rep. 1969 [1887 ]). Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, (New York: Elsevier, 1966). Robert K. Barnhart, The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, (Bronx, NY: H. W. Wilson, 1988) ].
2. Translation Consensus. The major English translations of Scripture translate these words by the English equivalent of “wine.” However, it is important to note that Jesus refers to the beverage in the Lord’s Supper as the “fruit of the vine” (Matt 26:26-29; Mark 14:22ff; Luke 22:17ff) and Paul references it as the “cup” (1 Cor 10:16-21; 11:23-28). In time, Biblical principles gradually undermined the consumption of alcohol in much the same way they undermined the practice of slavery. We must remember that the concept of pasteurized grape juice produced centuries later by Thomas Welch was a foreign concept in biblical times. [Authorized Version (King James); New American Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version; New English Bible; New International Version, English Standard Version ]

3. Lexical Relationship. One of the major words in our discussion is shekar (“strong drink,” NASB). It is the noun form of the verb shakar which usually means to “become drunk.” This is evidence of the inebriating capacity of shekar indicating a commonly undiluted form of alcoholic drink made from dates, apples, pomegranates, honey, barley, rice, and sometimes grapes. “Strong” has reference not only to the alcoholic content, but also to the taste. Prior to and during NT times the Jews differentiated between wine and strong drink as diluted and undiluted.

4. Contextual Usage. Many of the verses that condemn drunkenness make reference to such beverages as yayin, shekar, and oinos (Judges 9:13; 2 Sam. 13:28; Est. 1:10; Ps. 104:14-15; Eccl. 9:7; 10:19; Zech. 9:15; 10:7).
6. Circumspection Requirement. “Strong” Christians are instructed to forgo the use of wine (Rom. 14:21), when there is a likelihood of “destroying” (Rom 14:15) a “weaker brother” (Rom. 14:1; 15:1). The issue here according to Douglas Moo in his commentary on Romans has more to do with the fact that the wine may have been offered in the precinct temples to idols.

7. Ecclesiastical Requirement. Church officers are required to not linger beside wine, positively to mix it with water for digestive purposes, and not use too much wine when doing so (I Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:7; cf. 2:3). [Kenneth Gentry, pastor of Reedy Presbyterian Church, Mauldin, South Carolina, and author of numerous published essays and books, including The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages (Baker, 1986) currently under the title, God Gave Wine, makes a convincing case that wine in the OT and NT is usually fermented. The possible exceptions are dilution or freshness. ]

Why Believers Today Should Abstain From Alcohol as a Beverage
1. Wine in the NT era and wine today are not identical.

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

“New wine” in Hebrew and Greek respectively (tirosh / gleukos) may refer to the juice of the grape that was fresh or in the first year of fermentation. Mixed Wine in the OT was wine flavored with herbs and quite intoxicating (Prov 23:30). Undiluted wine in the NT era was approximately 7%-10% alcohol and usually not taken as a beverage without proper dilution. On account of extra yeast and controlled heating conditions, some standard table wines today by comparison are as much as 14% alcohol.
Fermented wine in the Greek and NT eras was regularly diluted with water (“Wine Drinking in New Testament Times” by Robert H. Stein, Christianity Today, June 20, 1975, pp. 9-11). The Talmud (200 B.C—200 A.D.) records the Jewish practice of regularly reducing the effects of wine by a 3/1 or 2/1 ratio of water to wine. In the rabbinic period “Yayin is to be distinguished from Shekar [strong drink ]: the former is diluted with water; the latter is undiluted” (Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901, vol. 12, p. 533). The Jewish Mishnah said, “They do not say the Benediction over the wine until water has been added to it” (The Mishnah, Berakhot 7.5 ed, by Herbert Danby [Oxford Press, 1893 ]). The normal mixture for the Jews was three parts water to one part wine (Shabbath 77a). In the Passover ritual during NT times the four cups every Jew was to drink during the ceremony had to be mixed three parts water to one part wine (Pesahim 108b). This practice is reflected as common during the inter-testament period in 2 Maccabees 15:39: “It is harmful to drink wine alone, or again to drink water alone [bacteria issues ], while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment” (See “Wine” in The New Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. Geoffrey Wigoder [New York: New York University Press, 2002 ], pp. 798ff).
This dilution process reduced the alcoholic content of the wine down to approximately 2.25–2.75%. In contrast to the ancient world, the modern world does not dilute the effects of alcohol. Beer is 3.5% to 4.5% and typically served in 12-16 ounce containers; table wines are as much as 14%; fortified wines are 18-24%; hard liquor is 40% (80 proof).
A diluted wine would reduce the risks of drunkenness from that of an undiluted wine. Peter argued that the Christians at Pentecost were not drunk since it was only the third hour (9:00 AM). Normally, one had to linger with the wine or be “beside wine” (1 Timothy 3:3) in order to be intoxicated.
“In NT times the practice of dilution seems to have been usual” (A. R. S. Kennedy, “Wine and Strong Drink,” Dictionary of the Bible, rev. ed. [New York: Scribner’s, 1963 ] pp. 1038-39).

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

“In all these countries [Syria, Palestine, Egypt ], wine was always diluted with water, a long-standing custom in Mediterranean regions, where pure potable water is not very common” (R. J .Forbes, Professor of the History of Pure and Applied Sciences in Antiquity, University of Amsterdam, in Encyclopedia American, 1989, 29:44-45).
“At a latter period, however, the Greek use of diluted wines had attained such sway that the writer of 2 Maccabees speaks (15:39) of undiluted wine as ‘distasteful.’ This dilution is so normal in the following centuries that the Mishcan take it for granted and, indeed, Rabbi Eliezer even forbade saying the table-blessing over undiluted wine. The proportion of water was large, only one-third or one-fourth of the total mixture being wine. Note— The wine of the Last Supper, accordingly, may be described in modern terms as a sweet, red, fermented wine, rather highly diluted [emphasis mine ]” (Burton S. Easton, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1984, vol. 5, p. 3087). The reference in Isaiah 1:22 to diluted wine as bad should not be taken as a proof that Jews did not dilute wine, but as a metaphor of spiritual adulteration (cf. Isa 1:21).

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

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

The Greeks practiced dilution and it eventually spread throughout the Roman world including Palestine. Pliney’s work entitled “Natural History” mentions an 8 to 1 ratio of water to wine. Other Classical Greek writers mention similar ratios: Hesiod—3 to 1, Alexis—4 to 1, Diocles — 2 to 1. Mnesitheus of Athens said: “The gods have revealed wine to mortals, to be the greatest blessing for those who use it aright, but for those who use it without measure, the reverse. For it gives food to them that take it and strength in mind and body. In medicine it is most beneficial … . In daily intercourse, to those who mix and drink it moderately, it gives good cheer; but if you overstep the bounds, it brings violence. Mix it half and half and you get madness; unmixed, bodily collapse” (Stein, “Wine Drinking,” p. 9).
According to Stein, dilution was practiced in the early centuries of the church. Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) described the Lord’s Supper as “Bread is brought, wine and water, and the elder sends up prayers and thanksgiving” (Apology, I, 67, 5). Cyprian (250 A.D.) said, “Thus, therefore, in considering the cup of the Lord, water alone cannot be offered, even as wine alone cannot be offered. For if anyone offers wine only, the blood of Christ is dissociated from us; but if the water be alone, the people are dissociated from Christ… . Thus the cup of the Lord is not indeed water alone nor wine alone, unless each be mingled with the other” (Epistle, LXII, 2, 11 and 13). Clement of Alexandria (late 2nd century) said, “It is best for the wine to be mixed with as much water as possible… . For both are works of God and the mixing of the two, both of water and wine produce health… . To the necessary element, the water, which is in the greatest quantity, there is to be mixed in some of the useful element” (Instructor, in James Donaldson, ed., Ante-Nicence Fathers [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans ] vol. 2, 2.2).It appears that Paul sets the standard for the early church in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 of “not beside wine,” not “much wine,” and not drinking water exclusively but using a little wine for one’s stomach. “Strong drink” (sikera) seems to be completely off limits in the NT; it is only mentioned once in the NT in reference to the abstention of John the Baptist. John was a Nazirite, a term which comes from a Hebrew verb which means to “separate” or “abstain.” Amos chastised Israel for their treatment of the Nazirites in forcing them to drink wine (Amos 2:12). On the other hand, God commended the Rechabites for their abstinence and held this tribe in high regard for their faithfulness (Jer 35:1-19) (See John MacArthur’s excellent treatment of wine and strong drink in his NT Ephesians commentary [5:18a ], pp. 229-244).

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

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

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

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

4. In the NT era Christians used diluted wine.

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

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

Definitions of Paroinos
BDAG – “drunken, addicted to wines”
Thayers– “given to wine, drunken”;
Strongs– “From G3844 and G3631; staying near wine, that is, tippling (a toper): given to wine.”

However, Greek word study scholars give references to ancient documents on this word that may indicate a metaphorical meaning.

Vincent’s Word Studies: “Only here and Titus1:7. The verb means to behave ill at wine, to treat with drunken violence, is found in Xenophon, Aeschines, Aristophanes, and Aristotle. Once in LXX, Isaiah 41:12. Rev. renders brawler, which is not definite enough. Better, quarrelsome over wine.”

Wuest in his Word Studies in the Greek New Testament has some interesting comments. For our purposes here, he references Expositors as saying, “The word means ‘violent temper,’ not specially excited by over-indulgence in strong drink.”

Jamieson Fawcett Brown: “1Timothy 3:3 - Not given to wine—The Greek includes besides this, not indulging in the brawling, violent conduct towards others, which proceeds from being given to wine.”

Exegetical thoughts
The definitions of paroinos offer a few exegetical possibilities:
This word may tell us that a man is not qualified for the office of a overseer if he is beside wine (This of course is the simplest rendering of the word.).
This word may also tell us that a man is not qualified for the office of a overseer if he spends time beside wine (regularly drinking alcohol as a beverage).
This word may also tell us that a man is not qualified for the office of a overseer if he exhibits the behavior of those that spend time beside wine (violence and brawling). The leadership of the OT (kings – Proverbs 31:4, and priests– Leviticus 10:9) were supposed to abstain while performing the duties of their office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

g. Alcoholic beverages today are easily and regularly abused and lead to other forms of wickedness. “And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink … They are confused by wine … They totter when rendering judgment” (Isa 28:7). Alcohol abuse is a causal factor in 70% of drownings/chokings, 50% of “freak accidents,” 27,000 deaths per year via liver disease, 30% of suicides, 20% of airplane crashes, 50% of fire deaths, and alcohol contributes to 500,000 injuries per year. Alcoholics outnumber all other addicts. Approximately 77% of all high schoolers use alcohol and nearly 30% drink heavily. Amazingly, over 40% of 8th graders drink. About one in ten of all drinkers will become alcoholics. In addition, 45% of all homeless people in America are alcoholics (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
According to national surveys, alcohol is a contributing factor in 65% of all murders in the USA, 40% of assaults, 35% of rapes, 55% of domestic violence, 60% of child abuse, 60% of traffic fatalities (Scott Williquette, “The Christian and Alcohol,” Sola). Interestingly, during Prohibition (1920-1933) many social ills in America decreased such as cirrhosis (66% drop), disorderly conduct (50% drop), and the rate of increase in homicide was actually higher before Prohibition than during it (US Government “Wickersham Commision Report” at www.druglibrary.org.). In addition to all of this, regular consumption of alcohol increases one’s chance of heart attacks, cancer, birth defects, insanity, impotence and sterility. In light of the above I don’t believe drinking modern alcoholic beverages as a beverage is an option for Christians except when in circumstances similar to those encountered by NT Christians in the early church era. Even then the same precautions should be taken now as were taken then.

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

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

Conclusion

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

Furthermore, if you abstain from alcohol as a social beverage, you can encourage others to forsake illegal stimulants such as marijuana, heroin, or cocaine without fear of inconsistency. Our joy need not come from a alcoholic stimulant. On the contrary, “in Thy presence is fulness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps 16:11). God wants His children to have peace without unnecessarily risking that we go to pieces. The liberated mind-set of the Corinthians did not help their church, nor will it help ours. Mark Twain once commented regarding gambling that the best toss of the dice was to toss the dice away. Practically speaking, in order to avoid temptation, tossing liquor, strong drink, and modern alcoholic beverages down the drain would only have positive results in the world we live in today.

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

Scriptural Warnings & Prohibitions for Wine and Strong Drink

1. The first drunkenness and the attendant improper behavior. —Gen. 9:20-26
2. Drinking results in Lot’s debauchery of his own daughters. —Gen. 19:30-38
3. Isaac was drinking when he mistakenly blessed Jacob. —Gen. 27:25
4. An express command for the Levitical priesthood not to drink while performing their service. —Lev. 10:9
5. The vow of the Nazarite. —Num. 6:3
6. Drinking leads to stubbornness, rebellion, and brings dishonor to parents.—Deut. 21:20
7. Abstinence was essential for Israel in the wilderness wanderings. —Deut. 29:2-6
8. Samson’s mother was commanded not to drink.—Judg. 13:4, 7, 14
9. Hannah, an example of motherhood, was a total abstainer. —I Sam. 1:14-15
10. Nabal, died after a drunken spree, after he already lost his wife’s respect.—I Sam. 25:33; 36:38
11. Only by strong drink could David lead Uriah into a fatal trap. —II Sam. 11:13
12. Amon, in a drunken brawl, was murdered by his brother Absalom. —II Sam. 13:28-29
13. While a king was “drinking himself drunk,” one of his captains slew him. 1Kings 16:8-10
14. While Ben Hadad and 32 other Kings were drinking in their pavilions, a small band of Israel’s men fell upon them and put them to flight. —I Kings 20:13-21
15. King Ahasuerus drunkenly tried to subject his queen to the gaze of inebriated
nobles, causing the wreck of home and separation of the husband and wife. Esther 1:5-22
16. Violence results from drinking. —Pr. 4:17
17. No wise men will indulge. —Pr. 20:1
18. Drink leads to poverty. —Pr. 21:17, 23:21
19. The body rebels after drinking. —Pr. 23:7-8
20. Strong drink produces sorrow, contentions, wounds without cause, babblings, redness of eyes. —Pr. 23:29-30
21. Do not be tempted by intoxicants. —Pr. 23:31
22. God’s Word warns that alcohol eventually harms those who drink. —Pr. 23:32
23. It produces a willfulness and prevents reformation. —Pr. 22:23
24. It fills men’s minds with adulterous and impure thoughts. —Pr. 23:33
25. It brings on insecurity. —Pr. 23:34
26. Insensibility follows drinking —Pr. 23:35
27. Habit forming. One drink tends to call for another. —Pr. 23:35
28. Kings and all other rulers or officials with the weight of human lives in their control should not imbibe while in the capacity of service. —Pr. 31:4-5
29. The sanctions for the use of strong drink were as a medicine or anesthetic for the dying. —Pr. 31:6-7
30. Blessings are promised to the temperate nations. —Eccl. 10:17
31. More woes to them who drink. —Isa. 5:22
32. Drinking and carnality go together. Leaves men hopeless. —Isa. 22:13 33. Drink is bitter to them that drink it. —Isa. 24:9
34. Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim. —Isa. 28:1
35. The pride of drunkards will be trodden down. —Isa. 28:3
36. Prophets and priests erred through drink. —Isa. 28:7
37. Those who drink are set aside as useless. —Isa. 28:7
38. Prophets and priests finally swallowed up by drink. —Isa. 28:7
39. Drinking brings on spiritual blindness. —Isa. 28:7
40. Rebuke to drinking watchmen. —Isa. 56:9-12
41. Total abstinence of the Rechabites cited as example of obedience on the part of God’s people. —Jer. 35:5, 6, 8, 14
42. Priests are not to drink wine in their service to God. —Ezek. 44:21
43. God honored Daniel because he abstained from the King’s wine which had been offered to idols. —Dan. 1:5, 8, 16; 10:3
44. Belshazar was an example of a foolish leader who drank and taught his people to drink. —Dan. 5:1-28
45. Hosea’s wife was induced by drink. —Hos. 3:1
46. Strong drink and immorality are closely associated. —Hos. 4:11
47. Kings and people reproved because of drinking. —Hos. 7:5
48. Young virtue sold for the price of drink. —Joel 3:3
49. Sinful men use drink to pollute the innocent. —Amos 2:12
50. Dissolute women, oppressors of the poor, demand their intoxicants. —Amos 4:1
51. Self-indulgent drinkers not concerned about God nor the welfare of others. – Amos 6:6
52. Drunkards to be destroyed. —Nah. 1:10
52. Arrogance inflamed by drink. —Hab. 2:5
53. Wrong to give one’s neighbor drink so they are drunk. —Hab. 2:15
54. Drink leads to shame and humiliation. —Hab. 2:16
55. Drunkards warned about the return of Christ and judgment. —Matt. 24:48-51
56. Greatness of John the Baptist in part is linked with his total abstinence. —Luke 1:15
57. Christ warns against being enmeshed in drink. —Luke 12:45
58. Warning against drunkenness and the cares of this life, keeping one occupied to the exclusion of the Spirit. —Luke 21:34
59. All are admonished to walk honestly, not in rioting and drunkenness. —Rom. 13:13
60. Drinking wine may cause a brother to stumble. Importance of example. —Rom. 14:21
61. No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. —I Cor. 6:10
62. The Lord’s Supper does not demand intoxicating wine. The word “wine” is not used. Instead all accounts say “the cup or “fruit of the vine.” God severely chastised those who abused wine at the Lord’s Table. —I Cor. 11:25
63. Revelers in drunkenness shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. —Gal. 5:21
64. Direct command that sanctification shall be of the Spirit and not by wine. —Eph. 5:18
65. Church officers must not be “beside wine” (paroinos). —I Tim. 3:3, 8, 11, 12

Scriptural Affirmations
1. Wine is a part of the blessing Isaac gave to Jacob. —Gen. 27:25

2. Wine (and strong drink) commanded to be used in sacrifices as a drink offering poured out and in the sacrificial meal. — Ex. 29:40; Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:5,10; 28:7,14;Deut. 14:22-26. Though the OT usually condemns strong drink, it could be used for medicinal purposes or possibly be diluted for consumption purposes. Here, it is more likely part of one’s offering unto God and subsequently used as a libation offering.

3. Wine “makes glad the heart of man.” —Ps. 104:14-15. Wine as opposed to plain water or warm milk caused one to rejoice. It was viewed as God’s blessing. However, this is not a reference to the inebriating effects of alcohol. It may be questioned whether in these verses wine is commended because of this lift or if the verses use the freedom from inhibition as a symbol of plenty and blessing-cf. Nathan’s reference to David’s polygamy as a symbol of God’s giving him great riches (2Sam 12:8). Technically, God gave grapes. Man makes wine from the grapes and strong drink from other fruits and grains.

4. Wine & strong drink are medically useful for healing wounds, digestive disorders, exhaustion in the desert, the heavy hearted & those “ready to perish.” – Luke 10:34; 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Sam 16:2, Prov. 31:6-7
5. Wine is a part of the future feasting in Christ’s Kingdom. —Isa. 25:6-9; Jer. 31:12-14; Matt. 26:29 (During the millennium the earth will be in a semi-Edenic state which may affect the process of fermentation.)

6. The Lord Jesus Christ miraculously created wine for a marriage feast. This wine was deemed “good” by the headmaster of the feast (John 2:10). Christ commanded the containers to first be filled with water thus eliminating any possibility of the concept of an undiluted wine. Second, the wine was fresh. (cf. John. MacArthur’s rather thorough treatment in his Ephesians commentary [5:18a ])

Stephen Reynolds, Ph.D. (Princeton University), who served on the translation team for the New International Version of the Bible and is the author of The Biblical Approach to Alcohol (Intern. Society of Good Templars, 1989) and Alcohol and the Bible (Challenge Press, 1983), argues the prohibitionist position as follows:

Reynolds: Scripture Prohibits the Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages
“A careful study of Proverbs 23 in the original freed me forever from my bondage to the moderationist theory. This chapter contains a number of prohibitions addressed to all humanity in the second person singular as are some of the Ten Commandments. They forbid us, each and every human being addressed as an individual, to do certain things such as removing old landmarks (stealing land), withholding correction from a child, envying sinners, being among winebibbers, despising our own mother when she is old and looking at a drink which in Hebrew transliterated is yayin ki yith’addam. The word yayin is generally translated wine in English Bibles. In this passage it is correctly translated wine. It is a beverage we must not look at lustfully. It is alcoholic wine. Yith’addam cannot (being hithpa’el) mean simply “when it is red.” The following words are no doubt put in Holy Writ to distinguish the forbidden yayin from other yayin which is not forbidden.
This prohibition of looking at this sort of yayin establishes a principle, one to which all the rest of the Bible must conform if the Bible is in harmony with itself, which it certainly is. We can no more look to other passages in the Bible, put our own interpretation on them, and say they negate Proverbs 23:31 than we can find some passage which we can twist to mean that we can despise our mothers when they are old and say that this negates verse 22 of the same chapter.
Someone who objects to taking Proverbs 23:31 in its plain sense has suggested that the entire book of Proverbs is given to us to make us think and contains no firm commands to be obeyed, but this is against II Timothy 3:16. If Proverbs gives a command, that command must be obeyed.
Another who objects to taking Prov. 23:31 as a command to all persons as individuals says it applies only to drunkards. His reason for doing that is that drunkards are mentioned, but drunkards and the ill effects of drinking are there to make clear what sort of yayin is prohibited, as there was nonalcoholic yayin as well as alcoholic. The idea of this objector is a very improper reason for seeking to avoid a clear command of God, which by reason of its place in the Bible is to be obeyed by all, not merely by drunkards.
That yayin in the Bible need not refer to an alcoholic drink is proved by Isaiah 16:10 and Jeremiah 48:33. Here the immediate product of treading grapes is called yayin, and yet everyone knows that the immediate product of treading grapes is called in modern (but not 17th century) English: grape juice. This is all the evidence needed to affirm that wherever yayin is praised in the Bible it should be translated “grape juice,” as for example when it is said that little children not fully weaned cry for it (Lam. 2:12) or when, in what may be the description of a harvest festival, fresh grape juice is being enjoyed by the happy harvesters and their friends and is called a gift of God from the earth to make glad the heart of man (Ps. 104:15).
It is therefore certain that yayin in the Old Testament may be nonalcoholic, as incidentally it can be in modern Hebrew. God used a special phrase, yayin ki yith’addam to name the alcoholic kind. Furthermore, to make sure no one misses the point, He described what it does to the user. It bites like a serpent, stings like an adder, affects the vision and the heart badly, causes a condition like seasickness, insensitivity to pain and is habit forming.
The fact which most scholars choose to ignore is that oinos in Koine Greek could be understood as grape juice. The Septuagint translates the word yayin as oinos in Isaiah 16:10 where a substance that could not possibly be alcoholic is mentioned. The Greek of the Septuagint is practically the same as that of the New Testament. This establishes beyond doubt that oinos may be unfermented grape juice in the New Testament. Jesus would not tempt people to commit the sin of drunkenness. Therefore, since oinos may be grape juice fresh from the press, what Jesus made must have been such a drink.
Of course oinos may be alcoholic. The fact that the same word may denote either an alcoholic or a nonalcoholic drink should not be considered incredible. Our English word cider may be either. The English word “wine” in the seventeenth century had both meanings. When the evil nature of the drink (a mocker, poison) is clear, we should understand it as alcoholic. Where it is approved we should understand it to be nonalcoholic. Where the context does not make the distinction apparent, a Bible translator and teacher must use care.”

Additional Sources

R. V. Pierard, “Alcohol,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984, pp. 28-32.

F. S. Fitzsimmons, “Wine and Strong Drink,” New Bible Dictionary (2nd ed.), ed. J. D. Douglas (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity) 1982, pp. 1255-57.

I. W. Raymond, The Teaching of the Early Church on the Use of Wine and Strong Drink (AMS Press), [1927, 1970 ].

R. Albert Mohler and Russell Moore, “Alcohol and Ministry” [MP3 audio ], Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

John Piper, “Total Abstinence and Church Membership,” October 4, 1981 (desiringgod.org., topic index/34/313).

Norman Geisler, “A Christian Perspective on Wine-Drinking,” Bibliotheca Sacra (January-March, 1982) 139 (553), pp. 41-55.

The outline for this lecture was taken in part from Pastor Scott Williquette’s excellent article on the Christian and Alcohol in his church newsletter entitled, Sola.

Pastor Mike Harding

ChrisC's picture

Mike Harding wrote:
The reference in Isaiah 1:22 to diluted wine as bad should not be taken as a proof that Jews did not dilute wine, but as a metaphor of spiritual adulteration (cf. Isa 1:21).
can you explain how isaiah 1:22 works as part of the metaphor of adulteration in 21-23 if diluted wine was good or normal? adulterated faithfulness, justice, righteousness, silver, loyalty and honesty are all bad, but adulterated wine is good?

LydiaH's picture

[QUOTE=Mike Harding ] Why Believers Today Should Abstain From Alcohol as a Beverage - 1. Wine in the NT era and wine today are not identical. etc., etc., etc., [/QUOTE ] Thank you, Pastor Harding.

My husband pointed out to me a verse -- Matthew 27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. Why didn't He drink it? It was not the same vinegar talked about in the other verses. As one commentary says, "The drink, therefore, was vinegar or sour wine, rendered “bitter” by the infusion of wormwood or some other very bitter substance. The effect of this, it is said, was to stupefy the senses. It was often given to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to the pains of death. Our Lord, knowing this, when he bad tasted it refused to drink. He was unwilling to blunt the pains of dying. The “cup” which his “Father” gave him he rather chose to drink. He came to suffer. His sorrows were necessary for the work of the atonement, and he gave himself up to the unmitigated sufferings of the cross." For this reason and many others, it is hard to believe that Jesus would have consumed alcoholic wine that would have impaired and altered his judgment just like he would not take the "vinegar mingled with gall." He was unwilling to dull his senses.

As I asked earlier, "who decides moderation?" I think "moderation" is defined by many as "one drinks until one gets pulled over by the police." At least I know that was the definition in the 1970's at that Presbyterian Christian College. Enough said.

Respectfully,
Lydia

Dennis Clemons's picture

You seem resolved to see what you want to see and ignore the Scriptures that contradict your position.

She convinced against her will is of the same opinion still.

Dennis

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

ChrisC's picture

Rev Karl wrote:
I believe that Philippians 4:5 refers, at least in part, to the consumption of food and drink, including the wine that was common on every dinner table at the time.
is there any other translation besides kjv that uses the word moderation in that verse?

LydiaH's picture

Dennis Clemons wrote:
You seem resolved to see what you want to see and ignore the Scriptures that contradict your position.

She convinced against her will is of the same opinion still.

Huh? With respect, I say this to be true for the other side.

Respectfully,

Lydia

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

I thank Lydia for presenting the common sense, traditional, Biblical view of Fundamentalism on alcohol. I also thank Mike Harding for his lenghty and helpful post.

However, this thread was posted to conisder Shelton Smith's claim that Randy Jaggeli's book allows for Christians to partake of alcohol in moderation. Has anyone actually read the book? Are there any reviews of the book other than Smith's? What exactly is Jaggeli's position in the book?

(Perhaps BJU Press should advertise the book on Sharper Iron! There would probably be quite a few takers at this point.)

Jay's picture

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

OK - back to original topic...has anyone on here actually read this book yet? It's made SI several times now, and I'd like to hear someone who has actually read it make some comments. Maybe we could get a review copy? It certainly seems to be review worthy.

"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

Jim's picture

*** Forum Director Comment ****

Thanks Jay C for reminding posters to keep on tract.

I strongly suggest that before you post to this thread; you buy the book, read it, and report back on this thread.

It's available on Amazon for $ 10.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591669197/ref=s9_simz_gw_s0_p14_t1?pf_...

*****************

Any other uninformed (having not read the book) comments on this thread probably will be deleted!

Jim's picture

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451670569e2011570b2819c...

Quote:
Jaeggli's position is that a believer should exercise total abstinence; a traditional fundamentalist position. How he gets there is somewhat different than many fundamentalists.

...

But assuming the position advanced by many evangelicals or progressive fundamentalists (i.e. moderate drinking is technically permissible), Jaeggli's book makes a worthy defense of one of fundamentalist's most attacked positions: A Christian should not drink.

Additionally I was able to view the table of contents and preface online at BJU press ... here: http://www.bjupress.com/product/261412

select "Look inside this book"

Pastor Marc Monte's picture

Some months ago after Jaeggli's book first came out, I purchased a copy for a dear older couple who desire to join my church but can not due to their drinking wine. When I read the book prior to giving it to them, I discovered that the argumentation of the book supports moderation and NOT abstinence. The first four chapters promote moderate drinking by claiming that moderation is the Biblical standard. The final chapter argues weakly for abstinence based on the notion that "Satan has established the consumption of alcoholic beverages in our culture as an essential aspect of unsaved culture." Of course, one could drive a semi truck through the holes in Jaeggli's strange defense of abstinence.

Has BJU's POLICIES regarding alcohol changed? According to personal correspondence from Dr. Bob III, they still expell any student who has anything to do with alcohol consumption. (I don't know what to think about the case of the reformed girl who was supposedly retained as a student after drinking alcohol at her "church." Maybe she's an exception to what Dr. Bob III told me.)

While their rule book policies appear to be the same, their new POSITION differs dramatically from what Bob Jones Sr. said (quoted in posts above). BJU's position is that Jesus produced and distributed FULL STRENGTH ALCOHOLIC WINE at Cana. Jaeggli further claims that Jesus drank the alcoholic wine of the people. I have addressed this issuse in my review of Jaeggli's book. To read my review, go to pastormonte.blogspot.com

In addition, Dr. Bob III favorably quoted Dr. Jaeggli in personal correspondence to Evangelist Dwight Smith. Here is what BJU professor Dr. Randy Jaeggli told Dr. Bob Jones III, referring to a phone conversation he (Jaeggli) had with Smith:

"Dwight asked me if it was a sin to drink. I told him that I could not say such a thing, because Christ Himself drank of the alcoholic wine of His day....Do I believe that drinking is a sin in our modern context? Drinking is a sin if the drinker is worldly in his heart attitude."

As any objective reader can discern, Jaeggli's words are in stark contrast to those of Bob Jones Sr: "There never was a baser lie hatched in hell than that a man has a right to a drink of whisky if it pleases him to do so."

While BJU's policies have remained essentially the same, their new position on beverage alcohol is in oppsition to the stated position of Bob Jones, Sr.

For the record, I attempted to discuss Jaeggli's book with him, but he refused. I have also had some personal correspondence with Bob Jones III, but he has refused my request to discuss this matter with him in person. I have met with some of BJU's most ardent supporting pastors, including at least one board member, and all of them have agreed that Jaeggli's book is a serious departure from BJU's former position, namely that consumption of beverage alcohol is a sin.

Please read my full review of Jaeggli's book at pastormonte.blogspot.com

I would encourage pastors to contact BJU about this matter. Politely ask the University to remove this dangerous book from production.

Just clinging to my guns and religion... www.faithbaptistavon.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've still never seen a "BJU's position" past or present. BJ Sr's views are his. Jaeggli's are his.
I'm quite confident that many involved at BJU from BJ Sr's day to now have been closer to Jaeggli's position than BJ Sr's... though I have to admit it's not entirely clear to me that there is really any difference.

Charlie's picture

Aaron, Jaeggli's book is considered a "Bob Jones University Seminary Publication" in the series "Biblical Discernment for Biblical Issues." Having the book published in this manner seems to lend a certain amount of official support for its thesis. It's hard to view the book as simply Jaeggli's opinion. At least, one would expect the book to be within the lines of BJU policy and to represent the majority report of the theological faculty.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

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

JohnBrian's picture

Marc Monte wrote:
Politely ask the University to remove this dangerous book from production.
I fail to see how this book is dangerous. Is it dangerous simply because you disagree with the author? If we start removing books from production there are a few books I would like to see removed. Can we start a post to list all of these books.

Why are you afraid of folks reading this book? Why not write a book refuting the arguments in the book (or maybe that is what you did in your review, which I have not read).

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Pastor Marc Monte's picture

Charlie is correct in his statement that Jaeggli's book represents the position of BJU. During the course of this issue, I spoke to Dr. Hankins (seminary dean) and have corresponded with Bob Jones III. Both of them have stated to me that Jaeggli's view is, in fact, the university's position.

Of course we all know BJU would not publish a book that did not represent its position. In addition, the book underwent a committee review to make sure, among other things, that its theological position represented that of the University.

The highest officials of BJU agree: Dr. Jaeggli's book represents BJU's position on beverage alcohol.

If you read Jaeggli's book and comments made by Bob Jones Sr., you will find that BJU's new position is in direct opposition to that of the founder. In a world where words still have meaning, there's no other way to view it.

Just clinging to my guns and religion... www.faithbaptistavon.com

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
The highest officials of BJU agree: Dr. Jaeggli's book represents BJU's position on beverage alcohol.
Assuming this is true, doesn't Jaeggli's book specifically say that a believer should not drink alcohol? I don't have the book, but I remember thumbing through it a while back, and I believe the conclusion was that a believe should not drink alcoholic beverages. You seem to indicate that was the conclusion as well, Marc. And so far as I know, that has always been the position of BJU.

So, Marc, are you claiming that BJU agrees with Jaeggli, and therefore says a believer should not drink, just as BJSr said, and as has been the position of BJU for decades>?

Or are you claiming that BJU disagrees with Jaeggli and now says a believer is permitted to drink?

Diane Heeney's picture

Sorry...missed the time limit to edit...it is technically "The Wisdom of Abstaining from Alcohol" and was preached in chapel at BJU.

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Given what a couple have pointed out, I'm prepared to believe the book presents the gist of university's leadership's view. But I'm just as certain that even a book in this particular series shouldn't be taken as "every jot and tittle of this book represents the univ's official position." So there is some murkiness as to what details of Jaeggli's argument can be characterized as "BJU's position."
But it seems quite likely to me that Jaeggli's conclusion that abstaining is the better part of wisdom was good enough for the folks in charge of greenlighting books. I suspect it would have been good enough for them in 1940 as well, BJ Sr. notwithstanding. I'd be very surprised if there weren't still some at BJU who would emphatically maintain the two-wines view as well as some that don't. But even believing in two wines doesn't make a thoughtful case based on application and conscience a bad idea.
No way to know unless they speak up, of course, but were I a betting man I'd wager that some two-wines folks OK'd the book.

Either way, I'm in hearty agreement with whoever it was that said if the book's incorrect, just answer the arguments.
The problem is that this is very hard to do... which ought to tell us something. Folks will continue to disagree irrespective of their commitment to obedience to Scripture. Let each one be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Diane Heeney's picture

I do not have our pastor's wife here to confirm this (she was employed in the BJU bookstore), but I think I am correct in saying that those little "disclaimer statement" slips (if you spent any time as a student, you are well-acquainted with them) are placed in every book that is sold on campus...including those published by BJUP.

I don't think it is fair to assume that anything proclaims the official University position except something written for that purpose--the student handbook for instance. That, or someone from the BJU Admin Bldg. Executive Wing making an official public statement.

FWIW, Dr. Jaegglli aligns himself with Dr. Bob Sr. in the above-mentioned sermon.

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

Mike Durning's picture

At the very beginning of the originating thread that started this mess, I raised a point that I would like to enlarge as a series of questions:

If the Lord had wanted us all to believe in total abstinence from all alcohol consumption, could He or couldn't He have communicated that somehow in Scripture?
Why would He put such a basic command on the top shelf of understanding, so that learned individuals seeking to prove such an argument would have to cobble together verses to build a case for abstinence?
Why would He then allow that case to be muddled by other verses that would confuse the issue?
What would such a prohibition against any alcohol consumption have looked like to the original readers of the New Testament -- people with no serious chemical means to determine if alcohol is present?
The range of meanings of most of the original language terms translated as "wine" includes both fermented and unfermented. Does this not suggest that the mindset of the people of the time would have been unable to grasp a case for abstinence? Does it not suggest that "unfermented" vs. "fermented" in the absolute sense were concepts largely outside their thinking -- other than immediately after harvest?

The fact that this conversation is even taking place ought to call into serious question whether the Bible teaches a direct total abstinence from alcohol. The Scriptures clearly view alcohol with concern -- even alarm -- but fail to outright forbid it. Such nuances produce the kind of debate we have here.

If there is a cultural defense for total abstinence given the situation in America today, then so be it. But I get very nervous when the foundations for something people will argue for so vehemently seem so much like a house built on the sand.

For generations, some Fundamentalists have been comfortable building "constructs" -- basing their convictions on verses snipped from here and there, divorced from their context, without reflection on the larger issues involved. And this is one such issue, apparently.

I am not a drinker. My children (both foster and adoptive) know that alcohol use is certainly very close to the worst thing they could do in my eyes. My congregation knows how I feel about it. But I will not put words in the mouth of the Lord, nor will I apply the word "sin" to that which our Lord does not.

Quite frankly, I tire of the "old-time religion" loyalty that reaches back only as far as the 1880's without paying attention to the entirety of church history before-hand.
If you want to understand why abstinence was the position of Dr. Bob Jones Sr. or Billy Sunday, don't turn to Scripture. Instead, read history books on prohibition and the birth of the abstinence movement. Understand their roots, and you'll understand why they took the position they did. And you'll understand that nobody needs to be outraged because some of us now take a slightly different position.

Jay's picture

Pastor Marc Monte wrote:
I would encourage pastors to contact BJU about this matter. Politely ask the University to remove this dangerous book from production.

Pastor Monte, did you know that BJU already http://www.bju.edu/welcome/who-we-are/position-alcohol.php ]has a stated position on Alcohol ? Here it is:
Quote:
The Position of Bob Jones University and Seminary Regarding a Christian’s Consumption of Alcohol

Bible-believing Christians of all generations face unique cultural and religious pressures. One of the most significant issues Christians wrestle with today is the growing use of beverage alcohol in Bible-believing circles. Christians, especially young people, are increasingly under the barrage of an evangelical culture that promotes the moderate use of alcohol.

As a Christian fundamentalist educational institution, Bob Jones University has taken a consistent stand for complete abstinence from the use of alcohol since our inception in 1927. Bob Jones University does not believe the Scripture condones the beverage use of alcohol by Bible-believing Christians. We will not retain a faculty or staff member or a student who uses alcohol or promotes its use.

Bob Jones University believes that the Christian is called to a life of growing conformity to the image of Christ and that the beverage use of alcohol hinders this conformity and growth in personal holiness. It is the University’s position that total abstinence is crucial to the believer’s unhindered and unobscured testimony—in the home, among fellow believers in the church, in the workplace and in society at large.


Maybe we'd all be wiser to actually look up issues on BJU's website or actually contact the school prior to declaring that they've departed from some position that they've always held.

As for Jaeggli's work - it's his book, not the school's. They published his book because he's on staff there and they usually publish any book written by their own staff [especially if it's a theological work ]. Contrary to what seems to be popular opinion, the school actually does allow staff members to hold their own opinions on some issues.

--edit---

Diane Heeney wrote:
I do not have our pastor's wife here to confirm this (she was employed in the BJU bookstore), but I think I am correct in saying that those little "disclaimer statement" slips (if you spent any time as a student, you are well-acquainted with them) are placed in every book that is sold on campus...including those published by BJUP.

Yes, that is correct. They are also added to every item held by either the J.S. Mack or Music Library.

"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

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