I began a series of posts on Wine, The Bible & The Believer in January of this year. For a period of approximately a month and a half, I published nineteen short essays dealing specifically with this issue, mostly because I desired to inject another view that not only dissented from many of the high profile Baptist blogs (so many of which are vocally moderationists), but also represented what I believe to be the majority of grassroots Southern Baptists >>>
Admittedly, Nathan Finn nudged me toward cranking out the remainder of the posts I'd like to do. His recent post entitled "Unplugged: On Alcohol" drew me in like a magnet to comment on his site. I read Dr. Finn but I rarely comment there. On this post, however, I could not resist. I suppose it's that weak believerism to which I'm cursed. Dr. Finn offers about as sober--no pun intended--a view as one can, given the perspective he embraces.
And, as far as knowing where Dr. Finn stands on the believer and alcohol issue, he is perfectly clear:
- Every time someone argues that alcohol consumption is unbiblical, they have rejected the sufficiency of Scripture and become a closet Roman Catholic…
- Every time someone imposes their private practices concerning alcohol on others, they have become a closet Pharisee...
- I can think of zero good reasons to replace Scripture with tradition...making alcohol consumption a practice that disqualifies someone from denominational service
- Southern Baptists who drink alcohol…[should recognize]...that the convention is filled with weaker brothers who don’t yet get it.
- the integrity of Scripture...is at stake.
Now to be perfectly fair to Dr. Finn, he humbly and with a gracious spirit conceded on the comment thread that his descriptive language concerning abstentionists such as myself and millions of other Southern Baptists was not what one would call winsome. And we thank him for such and hope under our Lord all of us may speak--even if we necessarily must speak tough--with salt and light.
In further spirit of fairness, however, I must note that only recently on another post I recall Dr. Finn throwing a passing slap to abstentionists. In pondering the question "Does the SBC Have a Future?" he writes of the "tortured exegesis" of those who argue that drinking alcohol is inherently sinful.
Please understand: I am definitively not arguing for dumbed-down language, stripped naked of any critical pizazz whatsoever. How boring could we possibly want to be! Besides. Bad ideas should not be dressed up in bow tie and tux. I am saying that it's approaches like Dr. Finn's that potentially increase the flame of the very fire he'd rightly like to quench.
Let me show you what I mean.
In the quotes above, one draws the conclusion that abstentionists reject flat out the sufficiency of Scripture and every time they open their mouth about abstention, they strangely morph into either a closet Roman Catholic or a Pharisee who cares nothing for Scripture, but bases all upon tradition. But if Scripture happens to be utilized, it is tortured exegesis at work since obviously abstentionists constitute the weak believers to which Paul referred.
To be sure, I have noted that, if I am correct about what Scripture teaches about the usage of alcoholic beverages for pleasurable purposes, to go ahead and drink up pleasurably is sin. To my recall, however, I have not evoked a personified image that remains more the epitome of utter lostness, moral blindness and religious depravity than is available in the New Testament. No more blistery language does Jesus offer than to the Pharisees who were white-washed sepulchers, children of hell and hypocritically moral buffoons. Pharisees are just not nice people and that abstentionists are lumped with them I do not and cannot accept.
Nor is this charge of Pharisee unique to Dr. Finn, I must add. Indeed being "Pharisaical" may be the favorite tarbaby that abstentionists receive from our moderationist brothers' hands. The irony inevitably is, not one microshred of Scripture was argued for or alluded toward in Dr. Finn's exhortation for us all to tone down our rhetoric about the alcohol issue.
Rather, throughout the presentation, moderation and its trusty sidekick--Scripture condemns the abuse of alcohol, not the use of alcohol--galloped freely throughout the entire pasture. That is to say, moderation was everywhere the assumed biblical position. I think my plan here will be to post at least two more times on alcohol--but not beyond three.
For one post, I will summarize and put together an annotated bibliography for resources in the future. Another will deal specifically with Jesus and His view/usage. Finally, we'll tie down the flaps with the Apostle Paul's words.
Grace to all.
With that, I am...