Have a drink, or don't

OK – I promised to crack the books and start some replies to Pastor Peter Lumpkin who is blogging toward (if, allegedly, not against) those in the SBC who find Resolution 5 offensive and anti-biblical.

This is where I'd start with Pastor Lumpkin, which would be the intro from one of his latest missives:
Thus far in our series on wine, we've really only made one important point contrary to our Brothers who insist that moderate consumption of alcoholic wine for pleasurable purposes is the only Biblically defensible position available; namely, that there exists a viable, scholarly understanding based on Scripture that calls for total abstention from intoxicating beverages--wine, in particular--for pleasurable purposes.
The reason I'd like to start there is because Pastor Lumpkin sort of just starts talking past people with this assertion.

Apparently – and I welcome his supporters, and anyone on his side of this exchange, to offer me a correction on this – he has misconstrued his own position for the position of those who object to Res 5.

See: Res 5 makes this plain statement in English --
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; ...
... 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.
It makes alcohol consumption an all-or-nothing proposition, and as I pointed out back in '06, this is based on the conflation of the use of alcohol with the abuse of alcohol.

My position – and the position of every single person I know who would reject this resolution and advocate for "moderation" – is that total rejection of alcohol use is excessive and outside the Biblical mandate, but that to abstain personally is appropriate in a very wide variety of circumstances.

Let me give you some personal examples. I work at a place where, from time to time, the guys I work with at my pay grade go out and have a beer and wings. BTW, we have it at a place which is about two miles from the largest SBC church in NW Arkansas, and that church is not campaigning to have that establishment, or any of the dozen liquor stores in its 10-mile radius, closed. And their pastor is a supporter of Res 5. End Parathetical.

But we go out and we have a couple of beers, some laughs, some wings, and we go home. And when I say "we", I actually mean "they": I am the first-string DD. When we go, I drive, and when I drive, I drink Cokes. In that situation, it is both prudent and a ministry to stay sober because somebody has to drive home, and I take their marriages and families seriously enough to say, "I'll pass on the Sam Adams, boys, because I love you and I want us to get home safely."

If I was in my house, I might have half a beer – because I like a half a beer once in a while, but I also can't have more than half a beer because of my Lipitor. But I refrain when it is prudent and not because there is some phony holiness stipulation which convicts me.

Everyone with me so far?

There is also the matter of ministry service. I'm the facilitator for Adult community life at our church, and as such I am considered a member of the ministry team. We live in a dry county. In that environment – where the moral view of the gentiles is that alcohol is the deemin likker – there is no profit for a servant of the church to partake in a practice which is viewed by the locals as somehow satanic.

So again: I choose personally to abstain.

The question, then, is not is abstinence a valid choice? The question is when is abstinence a valid choice? And as a correlation to that question, when is moderate drinking a valid choice?

Therefore, as we begin to engage Pastor Lumpkin's points, let's remember that it is not the advocates of moderation who are demanding an either/or solution to the issue. The prohibitionist view is founded on the principle that either alcohol is evil or it is wholly and always good – and it is that view which is frankly untenable.

We'll get to the 19th-century perspective of prohibition and alcohol which Pastor Lumpkin borrows from a Presbyterians minister the next time we come across this topic.

Then again, a story like this comes up. Can't wait to see the spin on this one.