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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Jay's picture

Pastor Marc Monte wrote:
How can one Scripturally and logically insist on abstinence when one teaches that Jesus Christ produced and distributed full strength alcoholic wine? I know Jaeggli does so in his book, but it makes no sense. That's what I mean by saying his argumentation is the problem. His arguments don't follow each other logically.

Pastor Marc, what do you mean when you indicate "full strength alcoholic wine"? Are you talking about something with enough punch to get people drunk, like today's fortified wines? Or are you talking about wine that most of the others in Jesus' culture drank - wine that was either 1:4 parts wine to water or 2:3 parts wine to water?

If you're talking about the former, then I think you have to deal with the logic of why Jesus would create something that would cause the audience to violate God's own command. If you are referring to the latter, then your own line of reasoning falls apart.

"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

Alex Guggenheim's picture

BryanBice wrote:
My point is simply that the practice the woman engaged in would not be tolerated by any Christian in our culture today. Even foot-washers don't kiss the feet they wash. To draw a parallel, if I had an assistant pastor who was primarily instrumental in leading a woman to Christ, she would naturally be extremely grateful for my assistant's role. But I wouldn't tolerate it if the lady desired to show her appreciation for him by taking off his shoes, rubbing his feet with oil, wiping them with her hair and kissing them. And I'm pretty confident he wife wouldn't tolerate it, either. I was simply illustrating, Alex, that I would insist that my assistant abstain from something that Jesus did, and I would do so based on biblical principles that mitigate against something that was once acceptable in another place and time--that's all & nothing more. Let's not get sidetracked, please.
And again your point is an attempt to equivocate one context with another and it, as I succinctly pointed out, is a platform of the weakest sort. They are not equivocations and unfortunately instead of rebutting my points you ignored them and just repeated the assertion. This not only does not make for a convincing argument but it demonstrates a certain unwillingness to return volleys that force you to move from a stationary position. Nevertheless I too have made my point and best wishes with the rest of the topic.

As to the main topic and the general trend I have observed in the ongoing discussion (not meaning I have your posts in view now, just the overall trend), I myself, find the lack of theological perspicacity and the moral posturing in place of healthy exegesis to be a bold enough front to keep me from wrestling with ten-armed bandits such as these (but trust me I am happy to fight these theological larcenists from time time and have with zest). But not every engagement is characterized by people shooting at imagined targets, some very strong presentations have distinguished themselves and I will say the read is good at times.

BryanBice's picture

Alex wrote....

"And again your point is an attempt to equivocate one context with another and it, as I succinctly pointed out, is a platform of the weakest sort. They are not equivocations..."

Actually, my point was not to attempt to equivocate (at least not as my dictionaries define it nor as the word is most commonly used). Assuming you mean by "equivocations" that two things are equal or parallel or something like that, I certainly don't believe they are on any level other than both are things Jesus did that we should not do. Again, I was simply challenging the notion that everything Jesus did we are free to do--that's it. Nevertheless, I'm so glad you're going to drop any further straining at this gnat.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

BryanBice wrote:
Alex wrote....

"And again your point is an attempt to equivocate one context with another and it, as I succinctly pointed out, is a platform of the weakest sort. They are not equivocations..."

Actually, my point was not to attempt to equivocate...I certainly don't believe they are on any level other than both are things Jesus did that we should not do...Nevertheless, I'm so glad you're going to drop any further straining at this gnat.

And that is just what an equivocation is dear Brian. You have equivocated the two contexts by default by attempting to use certain events in one to buttress the other or support it in principle. Sorry but the contexts do matter and they are not compatible, hence their elements, some or all are not evidence for your argument.

*Don't forget while I was straining at an alleged gnat it appears you are quite as eager to pursue its livelihood so before you thumb your nose in contempt at my pursuit, it might be wise to look in the mirror and understand there are two people engaged here, not one. But alas, we are going off topic so with respect to the thread and protocol if it is necessary for you to finish this side bar have the last word my brother.

Dennis Clemons's picture

I love a good rabbit trail as much as anyone but, to the original post, there's one thing that I've become convinced about just in recent years is that Paul's condemnation of the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 11:20-22) was for overindulgence in - not consumption of - something that made them drunk. Rather than correcting them for consumption of alcohol, he merely chided them for unequal treatment of the members (v. 21) and instructed them to have their meals at home (v. 22) rather than calling their silly activities the "Lord's supper". In his conclusion of the matter he didn't even mention wine at all. (1 Cor. 11:33-34)

Had the Lord or Paul looked as strongly on abstinence as some do today, he had the perfect opportunity to tell them that they were doing wrong by consuming at all. But he did not do so. This should speak volumes to us in the matter and allow us to see this clearly as a Romans 14 issue.

I'm neither advocating nor condemning moderate consumption. But there are always those who think that what God has said doesn't go far enough and that we have to improve upon it. They ultimately make themselves out to be holier than God. To you, I appeal as Paul did in Romans,

2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. ... 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. ~ Romans 14

Dennis

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

Rachel L.'s picture

Some are apt to use phrases like:

Drinking causes....
Drinking leads to...

When it would be more accurate to say:

Drunkenness causes...
Drunkenness leads to...

Many who believe in abstaining from alcohol will use the words "drinking" and "drunkenness" interchangeably. I do not believe that they mean the same thing. If someone believes that they are interchangeable, then I genuinely cannot discuss the "issue of alcohol" with them. We do not speak the same language.

Susan R's picture

Since the prohibition against drinking wine is linked with impairment, how does one monitor this? At what point is a person officially 'drunk', if drunkenness is in fact the point at which your responses are affected by the alcohol? It takes 20 minutes for alcohol to take effect (since most of it is absorbed in the small intestine and not the stomach), so by the time most folks 'feel' the effects of alcohol, they are already impaired. It is going to be different for every person, so there is no way to recommend general guidelines.

For the record, I believe that wine/alcohol has medicinal value, and I don't have any objections with someone using it this way- or even in cooking ( real vanilla is usually about 35% alcohol) but I have serious doubts about 'social drinking'. Ain't nothing good ever come of it, there's more in the Bible about the evils of drinking alcoholic wine than the benefits of it, and as has been pointed out, wine is different today than it was back then- from the production methods to storage to the necessity of it because of the scarcity of potable water.

I can't in all fairness say that I'm objective about this topic, being married to a former alcoholic who had no problem spending hundreds of dollars in pool halls, cheating on me, then coming home to break furniture and put holes in the walls when he'd had one or two or five too many. Oh- and he was an assistant pastor while this was going on until I blew the whistle. I also had to talk my 11 yob out of committing suicide because of the pain and suffering alcohol abuse caused our family. So there's my disclaimer for ya'. It was a very unpleasant experience, and I'd advise anyone supporting moderate consumption to be very, VERY careful about it. You give the flesh an inch, and it'll take a mile, and then you've got hell to pay.

Dennis Clemons's picture

Susan - this is understandably a sensitive subject for you and I would not presume to tell you that you're wrong to abstain in your situation. Going further, for another Christian to exercise their liberty around you and your family would be to risk offending weaker siblings. That too would be a sin as grievous as drunkenness.

To your initial question, I would respond that self control is a fruit of the Spirit and those who do not yield to Him can find themselves where you and your family found yourselves. Nevertheless, it is clear from Church history and Christian circles where moderation is practiced today that this isn't as mysterious as we sometimes pretend it is. Those who imbibe in moderation don't drink wine as though it were Gatorade after a long run. They have it in small quantities with dinner or a beer after work. I've often wondered at the large wine glasses and small quantities that they pour. This is apparently not just to enhance the wine's bouquet but the practice of moderation.

In the end, to pretend that people are incapable of drinking moderately is to ignore what is plainly observable in both Christian and non-Christian circles because of equally observable excesses. This usually proves to be more Pharisaical than godly. (I am not referring to your post in that regard.)

Dennis

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

Bob Hayton's picture

As a fourth generation tee-totalling Christian, I never thought I’d see myself drink. But an honest study of Scripture led me to dramatically change my practice on this issue.

[Side note: this thread appears to be the place for discussing the merits of abstinence or moderation. Half of the thread is about Jaeggli’s book, and another thread exists for that. So it makes this thread quite confusing. I have not read Jaeggli but I’m intrigued by his book, having noticed it a few months back. Now back to my post…. ]

I had no compulsion to drink, and hardly knew anyone who drank. I was married with 2 kids at the time of my “conversion”. For a few years previous I had kept a list of question verses on alcohol. They intrigued me, and seemed to contradict a strict idea that the Bible condemns all non-medicinal alcoholic consumption. But as I started reading blogs in the summer of 2005, I came across a couple posts on the topic which really challenged me. A young man was planning to drink in moderation for the benefit of his children, since he couldn’t just tell them “the Bible says drinking is bad”, he wanted to model a wise use of alcohol. Later, I ran into a friend who had just completed a study on every use of wine or drink in Scripture. That got me thinking and I looked more closely at the evidence for myself.

Eventually I became convinced of two things: 1) Scripture does not forbid the use of alcohol, but its mis-use (drunkenness). [With women, food, and money, we can see the same teaching. Nothing inherently is evil, but a moral entity (a person) can misuse God’s good gifts and that is where sin comes in. ] 2) Scripture praises alcoholic drinks for their unique joy-producing qualities. Scripture goes out of its way to connect joy and wine. Ps. 104:15 illustrates this:

“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

I appreciated Mike Durning’s questions he listed earlier (here) challenging us to not base abstinence on the teaching Scripture but only on Biblical principles applied to our current situation. I want to challenge in another way, however. Scripture says so many positive things about wine, that we need to be careful that we don’t inject our own worldly wisdom when speaking on the topic. Who are we to condemn and be prejudiced toward a substance God claims is his good gift to man?

This is the thought that gripped me, and compelled me to explore the pleasures of wine, beer and small amounts of other liquors. I can testify that I have never been drunk, and rarely have had more than 1 drink at a time, but this has brought me great joy -- both experientially, and as I am bringing my life in line with the Scripture’s teaching, not mere traditions of men.

Before you cling to a two-wine theory in refuting this, please consider why alcohol is praised: it gladdens the heart. It cheers the heart. It makes the heart merry. This is a description of the spirit-uplifting effects of alcohol that come well ahead of any drunkenness. This effect is real and is what is described in the Scripture, and it does not require drunkenness. Scripture uses similar phrases to describe drunk people (their hearts are merry with wine) in contexts where drunkenness is in view. So this intoxicating effect of wine is singled out as praiseworthy, even though over-indulgence of it later characterizes drunkenness. Consider the following texts.

Quote:
Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything. (Eccl. 10:19)
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Eccl. 9:7)
But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ (Judges 9:13)
Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” (2 Samuel 13:28 )
And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. (1 Sam. 25:36)
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, (Esther 1:10)
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. (Zechariah 10:7)

Another thing to note here is in the 1 Sam. 25:36 passage above, a few verses earlier Abigail serves wine to David and his men. There is nothing in the context of the passage leading us to think any difference is in view between the wine she served them and the wine Nabal enjoyed. See also, 1 Sam. 1:14,24 and Joel 1:5, 10 in this regard. One last verse to note with the idea of a two-wine theory: “Now what was prepared at my expense for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people.” (Neh. 5:18). How would you explain that one?

One last word: I don’t claim there aren’t valid wisdom concerns that would lead many Christians to not drink. But to cavalierly dismiss the above Scriptural teaching seems unwise. Those who have such a perspective on wine, and who carefully and moderately enjoy it, should not be shunned as profligate sinners. They should be treated charitably in line with Rom. 14-15.

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

Silverghost's picture

Pastor Marc Monte wrote:
Bryan,

How can one Scripturally and logically insist on abstinence when one teaches that Jesus Christ produced and distributed full strength alcoholic wine? I know Jaeggli does so in his book, but it makes no sense. That's what I mean by saying his argumentation is the problem. His arguments don't follow each other logically.

Would someone please explain to me how something is right for Jesus and wrong for me. Assuming Jesus produced and distributed full strength alcoholic wine, why can't I? (I'm playing devil's advocate here.) Since Jesus apparantly tended bar at the wedding feast in Cana, why can't I? Since Jesus supposedly depended on the guests' diluting the wine, why can't I be a bartender, believing that my customers will drink responsibly?

Jaeggli is asking us to abstain from something he claims Jesus did. That makes no sense regardless to me, nor does it ring true to the Scriptures.

This is clear reasonning, Gabe! Smile Jaeggli's position is untenable. The problem with the notion that Jesus created alcoholic wine at Cana is that God breathes "Woe" against it. As He warns us in Habakkuk 2:15 that it is a condemnable act to give "his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also...", it would be a serious indictment against Christ, if he gave those who had "well drunk" additional intoxicating drink. The word methusthowsin means to become drunk, so Jesus would have committed sin. Yet, the One, who came from glory and who created all things, could certainly have created the very best tasting unfermented wine for the host. He must have done so, or would be subject to the "woe" of Scripture against Him. Why would it seem so incredulous, that the Creator could make unfermented, good tasting, wine out of water?

Open our eyes, Lord. Luke 24:31,32,45 KJV <·)}}}>< Silverghost °Ü°

Susan R's picture

Quote:
In the end, to pretend that people are incapable of drinking moderately is to ignore what is plainly observable in both Christian and non-Christian circles because of equally observable excesses.

I agree- wine doesn't make people drunk any more than Golden Corral makes people fat or turns them into candidates for a triple bypass. And it's much easier to cry "Abstain!" about alcohol, but you don't see too many folks practicing moderation at a church potluck now do ya'?

Uh-oh, have I gone to meddlin' there or what. Wink But although gluttony is another topic, it is related in that any good thing from God can be abused and become sin. As a matter of fact, a lot of sin boils down to something basically good twisted out of proportion.

Bob Hayton's picture

Silverghost,

Using ellipses (...) in your quote helps give the impression that Hab. 2:15 says it is wrong to give someone a drink. The passage teaches it is wrong to give them a drink, 1) in order to get them drunk, 2) and then in order to see their nakedness.

Here's Hab. 2:15-16 in a few good Bible versions to see my point clearly.

KJV:
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink,
that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also,
that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also,
and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand
shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.

NASB:
Woe to you who make your neighbors drink,
Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk
So as to look on their nakedness!
"You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor.
Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness
The cup in the LORD'S right hand will come around to you,
And utter disgrace will come upon your glory.

ESV:
Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink—
you pour out your wrath and make them drunk,
in order to gaze at their nakedness!
You will have your fill of shame instead of glory.
Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision!
The cup in the LORD’s right hand
will come around to you,
and utter shame will come upon your glory!

Now about John 2, I contend that the feast lasted perhaps a few days. At the latter part of the feast, the best wine would not have been served typically. But Jesus' wine was amazingly good. In light of Scripture's teaching that 1) wine (the cultivated finished product) is a good gift from God to men, to cheer their hearts (see my last post above), and 2) the coming eschatological feast of celebration would include only the richest wine (Is. 25:6ff.) -- in light of this, Jesus' creation of great wine makes sense. He is not condoning drunkenness by making much wine, he is providing thoroughly for the remainder of the feast in a symbolic way to emphasize the glory of His coming. (Incidentally, it is ceremonial washing pots that would have made something unclean, that are overpowered by Jesus' miraculous power to become fit vessels for serving festive wine.)

Finally, the very word "feast" is literally a "drinking". Drinking wine is something you do at a joyous festal occasion. Scripture is replete with examples of festivals and wine. Think, Deut. 14:26 for a quick example.

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

Silverghost's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:
Silverghost,

Using ellipses (...) in your quote helps give the impression that Hab. 2:15 says it is wrong to give someone a drink. The passage teaches it is wrong to give them a drink, 1) in order to get them drunk, 2) and then in order to see their nakedness.

Now about John 2, I contend that the feast lasted perhaps a few days. At the latter part of the feast, the best wine would not have been served typically. But Jesus' wine was amazingly good. In light of Scripture's teaching that 1) wine (the cultivated finished product) is a good gift from God to men, to cheer their hearts (see my last post above), and 2) the coming eschatological feast of celebration would include only the richest wine (Is. 25:6ff.) -- in light of this, Jesus' creation of great wine makes sense. He is not condoning drunkenness by making much wine, he is providing thoroughly for the remainder of the feast in a symbolic way to emphasize the glory of His coming. (Incidentally, it is ceremonial washing pots that would have made something unclean, that are overpowered by Jesus' miraculous power to become fit vessels for serving festive wine.)

Finally, the very word "feast" is literally a "drinking". Drinking wine is something you do at a joyous festal occasion. Scripture is replete with examples of festivals and wine. Think, Deut. 14:26 for a quick example.

Thank you Bob for your reply. Whilst I agree with you as to the normalcy of drinking alcoholic wine at wedding feasts, because of natural process in those times, and that imbibing it was common and sanctioned in Old Testament Scriptures, drunkenness was never approved by the Lord. The John 2 passage indicates that Jesus and his Mother had been invited to the feast, that they had "well drunk" at some point, and that they had run out of wine. This would indicate that some of these celebrating had sufficient alcohol in their system.

The reason I had used ellipsis in the Habakkuk quote, was to indicate the seriousness of making a neighbor drunk. The end result would be the loss of inhibitions indicated. Maybe I should have included the rest of the verse, but it is wrong to give intoxicating drink to someone that would undoubtedly make him drunk. The Scripture does not indicate that Jesus had come "fashionably late" to the wedding, for that would be absurd. To think that the Creator of the universe could not create the exquisite tasting wine, that would not inebriate further those who were already influenced, is somehow limiting of the obvious miracle. To consider Him to have produced intoxicating beverage to give to those "well drunk," would make Jesus suspect of contributing to the drunken state. It simply doesn't wash, for the One of whom it is said that He "knew no sin."

Open our eyes, Lord. Luke 24:31,32,45 KJV <·)}}}>< Silverghost °Ü°

Bob Hayton's picture

Silverghost,

I had also replied on the other thread about John 2 specifically. My post there helps address some of your concerns here. i won't repeat it, so as not to have multiple conversations going on in multiple threads which isn't what SI's commenting policy encourages.

Here's that other reply link:

http://sharperiron.org/forum/poll-jesus-turned-water-john-2?page=1#comme...

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

JohnBrian's picture

Susan R wrote:
Uh-oh, have I gone to meddlin' there or what. Wink
Susan, this is a fundamentalist board, we do not allow women to preach here.

Meddlin' - now that's a whole different animal, and we do allow women to do that. :bigsmile:

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

JohnBrian's picture

Susan R wrote:
JohnBrian wrote:
Susan R wrote:
Uh-oh, have I gone to meddlin' there or what. Wink
Susan, this is a fundamentalist board, we do not allow women to preach here.

Does this mean I have to get rid of the pulpit I use as a desk for my laptop? http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sad025.gif[/img ]
We'll have to call a council of fundamentalists and spend 9 months or more arguing debating this issue before we are able to pronounce a verdict. The verdict will be called the Canons of What Constitutes Acceptable Surfaces for Women Non-Preachers Laptops and will be written in KJV English.

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

Jay's picture

Susan R wrote:
Does this mean I have to get rid of the pulpit I use as a desk for my laptop? http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sad025.gif[/img ]

It depends on what stain or color the desk is painted, and also upon who manufactured your Laptop... Biggrin

We'll be sending you a 75 page questionnaire to fill out so that we can come to an appropriate decision.

"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

Silverghost's picture

. It seems that posts 62,63 & 64 are misplaced from the topic 0:)

Open our eyes, Lord. Luke 24:31,32,45 KJV <·)}}}>< Silverghost °Ü°

Silverghost's picture

Susan R wrote:
Since the prohibition against drinking wine is linked with impairment, how does one monitor this? At what point is a person officially 'drunk', if drunkenness is in fact the point at which your responses are affected by the alcohol? It takes 20 minutes for alcohol to take effect (since most of it is absorbed in the small intestine and not the stomach), so by the time most folks 'feel' the effects of alcohol, they are already impaired. It is going to be different for every person, so there is no way to recommend general guidelines.

For the record, I believe that wine/alcohol has medicinal value, and I don't have any objections with someone using it this way- or even in cooking ( real vanilla is usually about 35% alcohol) but I have serious doubts about 'social drinking'. Ain't nothing good ever come of it, there's more in the Bible about the evils of drinking alcoholic wine than the benefits of it, and as has been pointed out, wine is different today than it was back then- from the production methods to storage to the necessity of it because of the scarcity of potable water.

I can't in all fairness say that I'm objective about this topic, being married to a former alcoholic who had no problem spending hundreds of dollars in pool halls, cheating on me, then coming home to break furniture and put holes in the walls when he'd had one or two or five too many. Oh- and he was an assistant pastor while this was going on until I blew the whistle. I also had to talk my 11 yob out of committing suicide because of the pain and suffering alcohol abuse caused our family. So there's my disclaimer for ya'. It was a very unpleasant experience, and I'd advise anyone supporting moderate consumption to be very, VERY careful about it. You give the flesh an inch, and it'll take a mile, and then you've got hell to pay.

Having previously been a Chaplain for a number of years at a rescue mission, we are currently developing a mission at our church. I certainly can attest to many who have been caught up in the evils of alcohol, some of them claiming to be ministers of God. I sympathize with anyone going though the dregs of this problem. Thank the Lord many can be rescued. Smile

Open our eyes, Lord. Luke 24:31,32,45 KJV <·)}}}>< Silverghost °Ü°

Pastor Marc Monte's picture

I just read that BJU has pulled Jaeggli's book from publication/sale. (read article at ww.soulwinner.com/latest/drink-up-christian-it-is-okay-i-guess.html)

I checked the BJU Campus store website, and they are no longer listing it with Jaeggli's books.

Can anyone close to the situation address this?

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

It does not appear to be available at the campus bookstore, but it would be speculation to claim any particular reasons for that at this point. I think it would be sad for the book to be pulled because of the criticisms out there. Would be better to simply publish another book with a different POV if they feel that particular volume is lacking. But we don't really know yet that anything has been "pulled," much less why.

http://www.bjucampusstore.com/ePOS?store=468&listtype=begin&keytype=sku&...

JohnBrian's picture

Pastor Marc Monte wrote:
www.soulwinner.com/latest/drink-up-christian-it-is-okay-i-guess.html[/qu... continue to be fascinated by where clicking on links takes me. Clicking a link to a particular site and then clicking on links on that site can take me to unusual places.

On the above website they have a "Basic Soul Winning Demonstration Video" starring none other than the preacher who preached a famous sermon recently about boys standing up... well you can figure the rest. Surely there has to be another soul winning video they could post than his.

Anyway, this post has absolutely nothing to do with the thread topic.

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

BryanBice's picture

Here's the content of a letter sent out by Stephen Jones this evening:

Dear BJU alumni and friends,

In 2008 BJU Press published The Christian and Drinking: A Biblical Perspective on Moderation and Abstinence by Dr. Randy Jaeggli, professor of Old Testament at Bob Jones University Seminary. The book is part of a series of short monographs published by the Seminary to help Bible-believing Christians apply biblical principles and discernment to difficult issues. Taking an inductive approach, Dr. Jaeggli presents Scriptural, medical and cultural evidence that brings the reader to the conclusion that a Christian should totally abstain from the beverage use of alcohol.

A Problem
The sensitivity and complexity of the topic of the book, combined with the brevity (72 pp.) and inductive arrangement of it, have caused confusion for some readers. They have concluded from some select portions of the text that Dr. Jaeggli condones a Christian’s moderate use of alcohol, which is the opposite of what the book actually teaches. Articles have been written questioning Dr. Jaeggli’s research and Scriptural interpretations, Bob Jones University’s position on the use of alcohol has been questioned, and some of you—our alumni and friends—have asked for clarification.

Our Position
Let me assure you that the University’s position on alcohol has not changed throughout our history; BJU does not believe the Scripture condones the beverage use of alcohol to any degree by Bible-believing Christians. Please read our complete statement on alcohol use on our website: http://www.bju.edu/welcome/who-we-are/position-alcohol.php. All of the administration and Bible and Seminary faculty, including Dr. Jaeggli, fully support complete abstinence from alcohol and teach and preach this position.

The Solution
While our position is clear and we stand by Dr. Jaeggli’s conclusion that Christians should completely abstain from alcohol, we do not want the University to be in a position of causing confusion or misunderstanding among our Christian brethren. Therefore, we are temporarily pulling the book from distribution. Our plan is to rewrite and edit those portions of the text that have been misunderstood and reissue the book. Please understand that the revised edition, while clarifying earlier in the book that the evidence leads a Scripturally-sensitive believer to an abstinence position, will continue to approach this issue in a way that differs from some approaches of the past, which have become less tenable over time.

As alumni and friends you are a key part of the university family, and my purpose in writing this e-mail is to show you the University’s heart in this matter and to clarify our position.

Stephen Jones
President

Aaron Blumer's picture

Well, that pretty much settles that, I think.
I'm pretty sure that the revised edition will be met with the same sort of reactions, though. I doubt lack of clarity is really the problem. But my copy is (hopefully) in the mail so I can stop guessing about that.

Bob Hayton's picture

"Let me assure you that the University’s position on alcohol has not changed throughout our history..."

This poses a couple questions for me. 1) Did the University used to call moderate drinking sin, like BJ, Sr. evidently did? But more importantly 2) Why is it so important that their position doesn't change?

Shouldn't we be willing to change based on a better understanding of Scripture? Or is it the fundamentalist thing to cling to old-fashioned standards as equal to unchanging Biblical truth?

I admit, leading an institution with alumni and other competing pulls for loyalty and support would be challenging. I can understand the reasoning here. I can also see that their position may well have not changed. But having a culturally adapted, position based on an application of Scriptural principles, is something that may well change over time. And the kind of change embodied in Reformation thought (semper reformanda) is needed.

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

Aaron Blumer's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:
"Let me assure you that the University’s position on alcohol has not changed throughout our history..."

This poses a couple questions for me. 1) Did the University used to call moderate drinking sin, like BJ, Sr. evidently did? But more importantly 2) Why is it so important that their position doesn't change?

Shouldn't we be willing to change based on a better understanding of Scripture? Or is it the fundamentalist thing to cling to old-fashioned standards as equal to unchanging Biblical truth?

I admit, leading an institution with alumni and other competing pulls for loyalty and support would be challenging. I can understand the reasoning here. I can also see that their position may well have not changed. But having a culturally adapted, position based on an application of Scriptural principles, is something that may well change over time. And the kind of change embodied in Reformation thought (semper reformanda) is needed.

I don't want to be hard on BJU here. They have many unenviable tightropes to walk and this is apparently one of them (though I wouldn't have thought so until now, really).
But there's no question that in fundamentalism we have a strong bias toward "not changing." That's not all bad. But it's sure not all good either. The trick is to maintain a proper regard for the lessons of the past and simultaneously re-examine all things and approve what is excellent.

Bob Hayton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I don't want to be hard on BJU here. They have many unenviable tightropes to walk and this is apparently one of them (though I wouldn't have thought so until now, really).
But there's no question that in fundamentalism we have a strong bias toward "not changing." That's not all bad. But it's sure not all good either. The trick is to maintain a proper regard for the lessons of the past and simultaneously re-examine all things and approve what is excellent.

I agree. Change for its own sake has little to commend it. Tradition is revered and honored in the New Testament, in one sense. But in another sense, it is denounced.

Certainly in our day, change is pursued with a fervor. And refusing to change is also seen as pride or haughtiness. It may be, but doesn't have to be.

"Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good."

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

Jay's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:
Shouldn't we be willing to change based on a better understanding of Scripture? Or is it the fundamentalist thing to cling to old-fashioned standards as equal to unchanging Biblical truth?

Well, apparently it's the latter, Bob. Foolish me.

"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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