This came up in the meta, and it's an argument which, in one form, Pastor Peter Lumpkins reiterates from his source from the 19th century, one Eliphalet Nott (Pastor Lumpkins misspells his first name now and again), which is that the Bible makes a distinction between "good wine" and "bad wine" – and Dr. Nott's view is that "bad wine" is actually "alcoholic wine" while "good wine" is merely grape juice, or grape juice mixed with other flavoring agents, or water, or all of the above.

There is no other argument in this discussion which, frankly, defies more hermeneutical and logical conventions than this one, so before I get to Dr. Nott's larger work on prohibition, this particular chestnut needs some time in cracker to see what's inside.

The first thing we need to cover is this: it is important when we read any text, but particularly the Scriptures, to represent what the writer meant as he meant it. I say that because Dr. Nott's argument expresses something which I think the average reader will miss unless someone points it out to him.

For example, Pastor Lumpkins makes a point of giving us this as an example of "bad wine":
    "For their vine is the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah. Their (yayin) wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps" (Deut. 32.33)
Fair enough, right? Except that's a truncation of the verses in question by a significant lot:
    For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The problem is not that they have "bad wine": the problem is that they have wine from grapes which spring from bad ground.

Hermeneutically, if we are going to say there is "bad wine", we have to admit that there is a reason in the text for the bad wine – and it's not alcohol. It's Sodom and Gomorrah -- which is to say, sin and disobedience.

But that said, there is another curious problem for Pastor Lumpkins and his Presbyterian source: the use of the word "yayin" in Hebrew.

See: in Gen 9, Noah plows the ground and grows some grapes, and makes him some wine. "yayin" is the word it uses there, specifically in v. 9:21. And with the "yayin", our friend Noah gets drunk.

That doesn’t seem to terrible on the surface, but when we get to Ps 104 and find out that wine is a blessing, it turns out that the wine in question is "yayin". When Ps 104 is talking about "making the heart glad", it's talking about something other than fruity goodness.

Be in the Lord's house with the Lord's people on the Lord's day this week.