Use of Alcohol (1A)

esterday in the meta, one of my fine feathered friends asked these questions:


On the Convention level, if we argue that there is no biblical precedent to propose said resolution does this not also apply to the local church? In other words, if we are looking at this as protestants a la sola scriptura, then on what basis does anyone make rules binding the consciences of men?

Also, the Convention could just pass another resolution saying that only members of churches with abstinence covenants are elligible for leadership positions. This would take out some of these arguments as they could then just appeal to the local church.

Bro. Mark
jM’s question is a pretty good one, so let’s think first about resolution #5. For example, it cites Proverbs 23 as an admonition against the use of alcohol. And there is no doubt that one kind of use of “wine” is here – but what kind of “use”? A glass of wine at dinner? No – it is the “use” of wine that the “drunkard” makes of it. And it is this pervasive conflation of “use” and “abuse” which is at the core of the problem with the resolution at it stands.

But jM’s question is this: “cent, if that’s the case, why can you admit that your church requires its employees to be alcohol-free and it not be a violation of the authority of the Bible?” There are at least two good reasons why.

[1] My church doesn’t make the case that the use of alcohol is forbidden by Scripture, or that all “uses” of alcohol are the same. It’s one thing to say, “we covenant together in ministry and promise each other not to use alcohol,” and another to say, “all uses of alcohol are the same according to Scripture, and Scripture warns us against any drinking-use of alcohol, and all Baptists should campaign against the beer, wine and hard liquor industry.”

[2] My church also doesn’t take a zealot-like vow to campaign against the use of alcohol outside the church or even outside the ministry: our ministers and their staff don’t drink. You can ask the question “why”, and they can give you the weaker-brother explanation which makes sense in our community and our city, which is in a dry county, btw.

The authority of the Bible may give us the liberty to do a lot of things, but that liberty comes with the responsibility to preach the Gospel and be all things to all people in order that some might be saved.

The scope of the SBC resolution is too broad and requires too much of too many. While its advocates seem to think that they are 100% inside the Biblical case regarding alcohol, they seem to overlook that the Bible was not written as a bartender’s handbook but as the revelation of almighty God which strongly warns those in church authority against binding people’s consciences with moral burdens that are unnecessary.

The same would go, btw, for your second question, jM: the resolution to think of churches with abstention covenants only as the “truly Baptist” (pheh) is equally too much for too many – it again overlooks the purpose and nature of church government, and the responsibility inherent in liberty in the life of the believer.

And just to make a point here which I have made a few times since I have started on about this, I find it incredibly ironic that the people pushing this resolution out are somewhat-obsessed about the factualization of man’s freedom in choosing salvation, and that salvation would be anything but holy and just and wonderful unless man chooses it of his own free will, but a glass of beer? Good heavens man! You can’t use your free will to have only one beer – or half a beer, or use a beer in cooking Italian sausage with onions and green peppers – and demonstrate that you have a good conscience by demonstrating restraint in your enjoyment of a beverage which is clearly of the same alcoholic content as “oinos”.

All adults have the freedom to drive, but we don’t lump driving at double the posted speed limit in the same category as driving at a reasonable speed. All adults have the freedom to play baseball if they want to, but not to set up batting practice that is knocking holes in our neighbors’ windows. All adults have the freedom to grill meat and eat it, but not to be cannibals. Eating is not the cause of cannibalism; baseball is not the cause of vandalism; driving is not the cause of traffic accidents.

Until the advocates of resolution #5 can recognize these issues, they are not even lecturing: they are posturing, which ignores justice, and mercy, and faithfulness.