Sunday, July 09, 2006

SBC resolution on Alcohol

Ok, I know I’m a bit late on this, but recent conversations have sparked some thought output concerning the following SBC resolution. I must say that in light of the resolution that Dr. Ascol submitted, I am not surprised that his did not find its way into the “popularity” of resolutions offered. Resolutions

WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35); andWHEREAS, Alcohol use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation's highways; andWHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to alcohol use by one or more members of a family; andWHEREAS, 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; andWHEREAS, 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 itRESOLVED, 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 furtherRESOLVED, 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 furtherRESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages; and be it finallyRESOLVED, 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.

Now, I must confess that much of the resolution I agree with. Alcohol, in the main, is destructive when abused. There is no question. There is also no question that the Bible warns of the sins that may come from alcoholic beverages.

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Proverbs 23:30 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?"

The Old Testament is filled with instruction for kings and priests concerning the use of strong wine and drink. They are warned about its abuse and the priests are specifically instructed not to partake of it when they are entering into the tabernacle to perform their duties.

Le 10:9 "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations,

Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; 5Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.

There are numerous passages that those who have dealt with the subject have pointed out. Almost all Hebrew and Greek dictionaries along with subsequent lexicons will point to the fact that teetotalerism (sic) is pressed, no pun intended, upon the text. For an honest examination of the subject matter would point to the fact that wine was clearly not forbidden to men. Rather, men were to be on guard against its abuse.

Vwryt is the Hebrew word used to express wine or freshly pressed grapes, such as fresh squeezed grape juice.

Nyy is the Hebrew word used to speak of wine. It appears that this is in reference to grape juice with alcoholic content for its use is often alongside strong drink. Its Greek equivalent is oinov, which is often used in the New Testament and translated as wine.

Several interesting contrasts happen in Scripture to show forth that alcoholic wine was in use by the Hebrews by the term Nyy. I will note that many of the exegetical gymnastics to make the terms of the Scripture alcohol in one sense and then non-alcoholic in another simply strike me as an attempt to read into the text something that isn’t there.

Two instances I will point to will make the point.

1 Samuel 1:9 ¶ So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD.
10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.
11 Then she made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."
12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth.
13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.
14 So Eli said to her, "How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!"
15 And Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
16 "Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now."

The word Nyy is used here and is clearly alcoholic since Eli believes her to be drunk, yet she speaks of the fact that she has not partaken of wine or strong drink. It is not a stretch to assume that she refers to beverages with alcoholic properties. However, we will note that in 1Samuel 1:24 we see that she brings an offering to the Lord which contains the very thing that she referred to as not partaking of when accused of being drunk.

Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young.

A question that arises in my mind is this for those who are the “teetotalers”, why is a fermented drink acceptable to God? True we do not see Hannah partaking, but we find her, in fact, offering it to God.

The second illustration I would offer clearly points to fermented grape juice in the Nazarite vow found in Numbers 6

2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD,
3 ‘he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins.
4 ‘All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin.

Now notice that there is a clear distinction between what is alcoholic (wine) and sour wine (vinegar) and grape juice and even the fruit. The glaring question in this vow is what is special concerning abstinence from the fruit of the vine as an indication of separation unto the Lord? Is this to be completely different from the rest of the congregation of the Lord? This would seem consistent in the context of the passage.

There is a very serious dealing with the use of the terms and the dividing line between partaking of alcohol and the sin of drunkenness in a recommended book God Gave Wine by Ken Gentry.
All in all, I personally support much of the resolution, but think it goes beyond what Scripture actually says and lumps those who might partake in a manner that does not intoxicate as though they are in fact committing sin. With that said, I want to stress what the apostle Paul said.

Romans 14:16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

In stating this, for those of my brothers who do choose to partake of alcoholic beverages, remember that in your liberty, you are to consider the weaker brother. The same apostle that wrote the words above also concluded with,

19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.
21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Let not our liberty be judged by another (1 Cor. 10:29-33), but may our sin be evident to everyone. Let us love our brothers and take measures wherein the same apostle told us that all things are lawful, but all things are not profitable. This is wise counsel from the Scriptures. Let us not boast and flaunt our liberty, but consider those who are weaker in the faith, for the former puffs up, but the latter shows forth love.

In conclusion, drunkenness is clearly condemned in Scripture and we find that drunkards are found outside the kingdom of Heaven (Matt 24:49; 1 Cor. 6:10; Gal 5:21). Drunkenness is something many believers find as part of their past life and something that the Scriptures call us away from (Rom. 13:13). When drunkenness occurs among believers, then there is clear warrant in Scripture for calling them to repentance no matter how loud they cry “liberty”. May God give His people wisdom rather than simply following the rally cries of those within the SBC, no matter how well meaning they are.

If I might add one last thing to the mix. Over at Josh Buice's PTD it seems this has flared up as well. I like Josh and appreciate his insights, but I find that he is attempting to justify teetotalerism (sic) in John 2 against the cries of those, who are just as wrong, who seek to justify wine consumption from John 2. If you exegete John 2, the point of the passage is not "to drink or not to drink", the point is the power of Christ in the miracle He performs. Attempting to argue this issue from John 2 is like those who attempt to argue the atonement from 2 Peter 2:1 and it just doesn't seem to make sense to me:)


Gordan said...

As always at your blog, Tim, I greatly appreciate the care you display to be regulated by the Holy Text itself. This is a fine and balanced, and (most importantly) biblically faithful analysis. I thank God for you, brother.


Nathan White said...

(sigh), I am kind of upset that this is such an issue. I love Josh and the guys over at PTD, -there is no question that I thank God for them. But I see this issue as coming a little too close to their denominational ties, and thus violating the man-made tradition that the SBC has enforced over the last half-century. Bottom line: saying that wine wasnt really wine violates the meaning of scriptural words (I am reminded of Dave Hunt's attempts to get around Acts 13:48), and it forms an attitude of superiority or elitism over those who understand 'not given to much wine' as what it says: not addicted to an alcoholic beverage. Ultimately, it is fear that drives these types of rules that scripture fails to set. A fear that the Holy Spirit cant do His work (and keep true believers from drunkedness when partaking in moderation), a fear that others will see us as 'less holy' -when quite the opposite might be true, and a fear that Christians will abuse the 'freedom' to no end. Give me a break. Let us trust God to do His perfect work, and to lead us into sanctification where HE sees fit. Far be it from me that I stick to a denominational tradition and a Christian-cultural faux pas rather than the teachings of my Lord.

I fight my pride enough as it is; I don't need another man-made rule to encourage me to look down on other Christians who don't follow my system.


Hank said...


I agree and it is beyond me why the result must drive the exegesis. Your argument is plain and concise and I feel is the correct interpretation as well as how it should be applied. We seem to want the end to justify the means, and as Nathan mentioned in his last sentence, the true intent and teachings of Jesus should always supersede our application to society.

Tim said...

Thanks guys for your input. Yeah, I am taking it from PTD that the sin drives the hermeneutic towards the non-sin. For instance, because drunkenness is sinful, therefore Jesus wouldn't offer fermented wine at a party (ie. Jesus wouldn't give us something that could make us sin).

So, God creates women and gives the command not to lust, fornicate, or commit adultery, yet He still gives man woman.

God gives food, yet He is clear in pointing out the gluttony is sin, yet He still gives food.

God gives righteous anger, yet commands that when we are angry we are not to sin, yet still gives us the impulse of righteous anger.

The list goes on and on and on.

I am anxious to see if someone from the SBC will actually take up a resolution on gluttony. I would love to hear the sermons that would proceed such a resolution:)

Nathan White said...

I believe that the SBC and others have a knee-jerk reaction to this issue simply because it is a prominent sin in this western, 21st century culture. They interpret scripture in light of their surroundings instead of from the text itself.

Funny thing is, gluttony is a common and prominent sin in this western 21st century culture as well. In fact, if we were to use the same logic, it would be a sin for me to eat ANYTHING at McDonalds, simply because most everything on their menu could possibly lead to gluttony. Actually, I have heard someone come close to this -even suggesting that drinking coffee is a sin because it is addicting and unhealthy.


ajlin said...


That last statement is clearly false. :)


Tim said...


Great to hear from you. My sentiments exactly:)


My point is not just western culture, but SBC. Almost every evangelist that came to preach "revivals" was almost always overweight and preached about every sin and non sin under the Sun, but would not touch the G word.

The mixed their shouting and spitting so much that I truly wonder if they think inspiration is equated with perspiration. It reminds me of Caner's message and how he started getting loud during his reading of Paul and said, "Does it sound like Paul's getting fired up? Does it sound like he's getting in the Spirit?"

My answer was "No, sounds like you are playing the emotion card:)"

In any case, I don't want people to think I'm bashing them, just making an observation. The hypocrisy between these two issues is clear.

Nathan White said...


Why else do you think I call coffee the 'Christian Cocktail'??

Wow, if coffee is a sin, imagine how compounded it is to drink an expensive Starbucks. I guess that would be like purchasing a bottle of really expensive wine or something. Talk about compounding the sin :)


DOGpreacher said...

I see you are rockin' right along brother. The "rockin' right along" comment was not referring to music.....after all...we know that is sinful!#:<

smithsan said...

SBC Today says First, the argument that one cannot find in Scripture a prohibition against the consumption of alcohol. This seems to be the strongest argument around. However, turn the tables to another argument from silence, on that says; Scripture does not encourage alcohol consumption in moderation.
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