two fingers worth

OK, so the SBC convention had a lot of surprises, and everyone is talking about both of them, but I am only going to talk about one of them: the resolution on the demon likker.

Have you read it yet? here: read it for yourself --

WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); and

WHEREAS, Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways; and

WHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; and

WHEREAS, The use of alcohol as a recreational beverage has been shown to lead individuals down a path of addiction to alcohol and toward the use of other kinds of drugs, both legal and illegal; and

WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretation of the doctrine of "our freedom in Christ"; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is a user of alcoholic beverages.

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb alcohol use in our communities and nation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence and encourage local churches to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.
For me, the highlighted sections of this document are interesting -- because they they seem to confuse the problem of abuse with all methods of use. For example, if we take a look at this document seriously, Presbyterian eucharist is hereby looked down from the collective nose of Southern Baptists as leading to all manner of evil -- including, if you please, the break up of families.

So my first thought on this is that the document is poorly written and poorly thought through. Is "use" equal to "abuse"? It's like saying that engagement seems to be leading to a lot of divorce, so we have to toss out engagement in order to lower the divorce rate.

My second thought on this document is that it flies in the face of a lot of finger-wagging that went on at the convention. For example, there was a lot of finger-wagging going on which said that if we weren't spending so much time debating the finer points of theology, we might have more time to get out and do some "soul winning". Let me suggest that if debating theology is a drag on resources away from evangelism, working to outlaw alcohol is itself a drain on resources which will be much more costly in real terms than trying to find out if we can rightly call reformed baptists "Christians" or not. And we don't really gain any deeper appreciation of the actual Gospel by taking up arms to force the government to do something which our local churches are utterly loathe to do anything about.

Seriously: when was the last time you saw a baptist church work out some church discipline for someone who was a drunk -- or even a "user" of alcohol? If it is such a problem, you would think that churches would be struggling with it through biblical means first rather than with a somewhat self-ignorant corporate declaration which has some basic flaws in reasoning.

Third, what are those flaws in reasoning? The worst is the confusion of "use" and "abuse", but the most glaring from a "people of the book" standpoint is the abuse of Prov 23:29-35 here. That passage says
    29Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaining?
    Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has redness of eyes?
    30Those who tarry long over wine;
    those who go to try mixed wine.
    31Do not look at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup
    and goes down smoothly.
    32In the end it bites like a serpent
    and stings like an adder.
    33Your eyes will see strange things,
    and your heart utter perverse things.
    34You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
    like one who lies on the top of a mast.
    35"They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt;
    they beat me, but I did not feel it.
    When shall I awake?
    I must have another drink."
Isn't it strange that this passage is pretty clear to reject turning to alcohol to solve problems and turning to alcohol in excess? If you tarry too long over wine, it'll certainly wear you out -- but this passage doesn't say that all imbibing is destructive and sinful.

For a group who have made a big deal out of inerrancy, it would be nice if they treated the text as if it were actually true and said something specifically.

And no, if you are asking, I don't drink. In the last 5 years I have probably had 4 glasses of wine, and they were far enough apart that you couldn't count them as anything but "use". If you have any questions about how I feel about this subject, you can look here and here.