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2010.03.17

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peter

All,

While I will entertain a question pertaining to the content in either of the three short pieces, I do not desire a full range of exchange here. Many times people have referenced my book (in which I've gone to considerable length in covering the issue broadly) but have never read the book.

Now: by no means is this an advertisement to purchase my volume. On the other hand, I have no interest in rehashing answers to a plethora of questions about which I went to a lot of effort to both research and find a publisher.

With that, I am...
Peter

D.J. Williams

After reading part II of your case (arguing that the wine consumed was weak and that what we have today would be considered "strong drink"), I'm curious as to how you would approach Deut. 14:24-26, which actually commends the purchase and consumption of strong drink as an act of worship to God?

Chris Roberts

"the new wave of moderation advocates among Southern Baptists who view consuming intoxicating substances (in moderation, of course) indicative of our freedom in Christ"

That is a silly view. Drinking alcohol is not indicative of our freedom in Christ since alcohol consumption has never been prohibited anyway. Even before Christ the saints were permitted to drink alcohol.

David R. Brumbelow

D. J.,
I can give you my own take on Deuteronomy 14:26.

First, while I’m not directly referring to you, this obscure verse seems to be the favorite with many who want to defend the recreational use of a mind-altering drug.

Second, most scholars agree that Shekar (translated strong drink, beer, etc.) in Deuteronomy 14:26 always refers to an intoxicating drink. But not all scholars agree. See the NKJV where they translate it wine and “similar drink,” thus leaving it open to be either intoxicating or non-intoxicating drink. Robert Young in Young’s Analytical Concordance defines Shekar as, “sweet drink (what satiates or intoxicates).” Our words sugar, cider, saccharine come from this word. Interestingly, cider can refer to either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.

Just as today, in ancient times they had intoxicating and un-intoxicating drinks. They had, and could preserve, un-intoxicating wine, as is attested by Aristotle, Nicander, Cato, Colummella, Pliny, as well as modern scholars. Wine in ancient times referred to fermented, unfermented, and slightly fermented drink.

Peter Lumpkins’ book, Alcohol Today, deals with much of this and gives a number of quotes from the above ancient writers.
David R. Brumbelow

D.J. Williams

David,

Are there any scholars outside of the abstinence camp that interpret shekar as a non-intoxicating beverage? The fact that some (who I assume are abstentionists, but I'm open to being proven wrong) people translate the word differently isn't the most compelling case. What textual data leads you to conclude shekar is non-intoxicating here, especially in light of its consistent usage elsewhere in the OT?

As a follow-up: if this word does in fact refer to an intoxicating drink, would this change your mind about the Scriptures requiring abstinence.

And Chris, good point.

peter

D.L.

Thanks. Personally, D.L., on this thread, I'd rather stick to questions about what my mini-series did mention rather that focus on what was not addressed (however, for the record, in my book I dealt with most of the texts moderationists enlist as supporting their view, including Dt. 14).

I will briefly say, contra Ken Gentry in his book, "God Gave Wine," the Dt. passage you quote does not conflict with the abstinence position as forcefully as you appear to imply.

Chris,

Whether or not you think it is a silly view, it is a very popular one among many young Baptists.

With that, I am...
Peter

Scott Slayton

"there are millions of faithful Southern Baptists who continue to both practice and proclaim the biblical view of abstinence from intoxicating substances for pleasurable purposes."

In light of this quote, would you consider those who held to a moderation view to be unfaithful Southern Baptists?

peter

Scott,

Suppose I wrote, "there are millions of faithful Southern Baptists who continue to go to church every Sunday." In light of this statement, would it necessarily follow I would consider those who did not attend church every Sunday to be unfaithful Southern Baptists? The answer to this may very well assist you to see my answer to your query.

With that, I am...
Peter

Scott Slayton

Or you could just answer a pretty simple question.

David R. Brumbelow

D. J.,
Yes, there are scholars outside the abstinence camp that believe this about shekar.

I gave two examples above. I have no way of knowing if the translators of the NKJV were for or against drinking, though I like to assume the best about them :-).

Robert Young in his own translation of the Bible (YLT) translated shekar as strong drink in Deuteronomy 14:26. That may indicate he disagreed with those who are against drinking; yet he still said in his concordance that shekar could be either intoxicating or un-intoxicating.

Abbott was not for the prohibitionists, yet said, “It is tolerably clear that the general words ‘wine [yayin; oinos]’ and ‘strong drink [shekar]’ do not necessarily imply fermented liquors, the former signifying only a production of the vine, the latter the produce of other fruits than the grape.” -Dr. Lyman Abbott (1835-1922), Dictionary of Religious Knowledge. Abbott was a Congregational minister, editor, and author. More such examples could be given.

Textual data would be concerned with what the exact words were and what the words meant in ancient times, not necessarily what they mean to you today. Also important is the context in which they are found. Common words used today can mean either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages: drink, liquor, eggnog, cider, wine, etc. Yes, even today wine is used in both senses, though most often as an alcoholic drink. You can usually figure out which these words mean by their context.
David R. Brumbelow

David R. Brumbelow

By the way, Peter, you did a great job with your series of Baptist Press articles on Alcohol and the Church.

I thank God that Southern Baptists still stand strong against alcohol. I appreciate Baptist Press being willing to print this viewpoint. I hope they continue to do so.
David R. Brumbelow

Ron Phillips, Sr.

Peter,

I too want to congratulate you on the series in Baptist Press. Well done.

Off topic:
For those of you who have not read Peter's book, it is an excellent example of textual/historical research and context. Far too many want to view this and other biblical topics through the lens of modernity rather than the context in which it was written. It is well worth the price. I highly recommend it.

Blessings,

Ron P.

Tim G

Great series Peter. The book was equally as GREAT. Thank you for standing true to the Word of God ad presenting a truly Biblical view.

D.J. Williams

Seems awfully convenient that anytime Scripture uses wine or strong drink in a clearly positive sense (Deut 14:26, Psalm 104:15), the word should be interpreted as non-alcoholic - but every time the word appears in a negative sense it should be interpreted as alcoholic. Especially given the fact that most scholars (and virtually everybody before the year 1800) take a more consistent approach. Seems to violate a lot of hermenutical principles.

peter

D.J.

If I may briefly respond to your last statement "that most scholars (and virtually everybody before the year 1800) take a more consistent approach...": a) the historical scholarly trajectory on this subject is more checkered than I think you're allowing;

b)were we to take your concern at face value, the Reformation itself would be questionable

c) counting scholarly hands raised on one side or the other is not to be dismissed outright; however, neither has it been the final determinate for deciding what we believe to be the truth, whether as a faith-community or as individual disciples of Jesus

Thanks for your input.

With that, I am...
Peter

D.J. Williams

Now that all three posts are up, a little interaction...

Post 1 is irrelevant. All those stats are a result of drunkenness. Drunkenness is bad, and it has had tragic affects on our society. No one disputes that. However, so has internet pornography, but to use awful stats on internet pornography to argue for abstinence from the internet would be foolish (and of course, on a blog, a tad bit ironic :) ).

Post 2 is also irrelevant. I would disagree with many of the assertions on the alcoholic content of biblical wine, but even if I granted every point, it was still obviously strong enough to produce drunkenness, as we see countless examples of drunkenness in Scripture and countless warnings against it. Even if they could drink 15 glasses without becoming intoxicated and today you could only drink one without becoming intoxicated, drunkenness remains the issue at hand. The only way this data would be relevant is if only one drink was able to make one intoxicated today (this will be important later).

Post three is the meat of the argument, so here's how I would respond to the two arguments contained within.

1 - The first argument is that if we argue for moderation in alcohol usage, how can we argue against it with other substances, like marijuana? My answer would be this - it is possible to drink one beer without becoming intoxicated. The law says so, and plain human experience says so. I've drank up to two drinks in one evening (but never more) and I've never in my life been remotely close to anything resembling drunk, legally and practically. Is it possible to smoke one joint without being intoxicated (throwing out the legal canard as Peter suggests)? I've never done so, so I can't say with certainty, but I would imagine not. Thus, because marijuana necessarily leads to intoxication (i.e. drunkenness) while alcohol does not, one could biblically have a beer while shunning a joint.

2. Saying that abstinence is thouroughly biblical is a red herring. You argue that Eden illustrates this - however, God explicitly commanded abstinence there, he does not with alcohol. Using Eden to commend abstinence from alcohol is as justified as using it to commend abstinence from watching baseball. Neither is in view here. Secondly, you use worship as an example - we worship God not moderately, but exclusively. That, also, is explicitly commanded, so your analogy breaks down (unless you'd like to hang up your baseball glove). Next, you use Satan's temptation for Jesus to "indulge himself." Since alcohol is not in view here, the only principle you could possibly mine is a general prohibition against indulging onesself. Would you apply the same logic to a steak (Mmmm, I'd really like to eat this steak, but Jesus didn't indulge himself when Satan tempted him to, so I guess I shouldn't). Taking up our cross and following Jesus doesn't mean we shun pleasure at every turn. Yes, we are to deny self as followers of Jesus - but we allow Scripture to tell us what that means. If I decide to have fun by tossing football with my friend in the back yard, saying "No! Scripture says to deny yourself!" isn't an acceptable response.

This brings us to a point I'm glad you at least acknowledged. You admit that Scripture never prohibits the use of alcoholic beverages, only intoxication. You argue, though, that lack of a specific prohibition is irrelevant because there are many things that would be wrong for Christians that aren't specifically spelled out in Scripture. You use marijuana again as an example. Though Scripture does not explicitly condemn marijuana, we can say it is wrong based on the principle that Scripture forbids drunkenness (i.e. intoxication), and marijuana neccessarily causes intoxication. Said principle would not be appilcable to the act of having one beer, since it does not necessarily cause intoxication. No, we don't need a specific prohibition for something to be wrong, but we do need at least a clearly applicable principle. Otherwise, we're in great danger of ending up like the Pharisees, straining at gnats.

In closing, let me also say that the pervasiveness of alcohol use by believers in Scripture (and yes, the commendations of it in passages like the above-mentioned Deut and Psalms verses), lends great credence to the moderationist postition and places a high burden of proof on the abstentionist. You may respond with "but it wasn't the sam wine!", but as I pointed out - it was enough to cause intoxication. Perhaps they could have 10 glasses while we can only have two, but that's a difference in degree, not type. And finally - if you believe that abstinence is the superior moral option, then by all means follow it. Don't go against your conscience, for to do so would be sin. However, you cannot hold others to that standard. I don't agree it is wisest, I don't agree it is Biblical, and for what it's worth, Jesus didn't either :).

D.J. Williams

Peter...

On your response...

a) I'd be open to being shown otherwise (though, to be honest, I'm not going to spend money on your book to do so).

b) Agreed. That's a generalization, and it can't be stretched too far. It's important to see, though, that principles of the reformation were things valued in the early church. Luther didn't invent faith alone, God did, and the early church affirmed it. My point, and I'd hope you'd agree, is that we should be generally suspicious and discerning when someone discovers something in the Biblical text that God-fearing Christians have completely missed for 1800 years. Our faith in the clarity of Scripture demands that.

c) Agreed 100%

volfan007

I really think that most of the people who see drinking alcohol as ok are either a)drinkers, who dont like for people to say that they're living in foolishness and sin; or b) people, who dont want to preach against alcohol use due to there being so many people who drink, and they dont want to run off the drinking crowd by preaching against it.


David

volfan007

Or, c)like to think of themselves as intellectuals and part of the sophisticated crowd that frequents coffee shops and book clubs....where people drink wine and other things...sort of the sophisticated, social drinking, wine club crowd...and they like to fit in with this crowd.

David

D.J. Williams

Glad you know me so well, David. Can't we have this discussion without making assumptions about each others' motives?

peter

D.J.

Since your first two responses suggest parts I & II are irrelevant, I'll assume you are correct. No use arguing over irrelevancy.

First, I made it clear, I was by no means offering an advertisement or subtle suggestion for anyone purchasing my book. I'm content with it being published as well as those who do purchase it in getting some needed assistance.

Second, however, your stated resistance to a volume which develops arguments and documents those arguments extensively makes your twice made assertion "I'm open to being proven wrong" barely credible. One would hardly have to purchase my book to benefit from any number of solid works in a good library.

And, since again I do not want this to be about my book, I suggest a nifty little volume by Dr. Peter Masters, Senior Minister, Metropolitan Tabernacle (Spurgeon’s) in London since 1970, entitled "Should Christians Drink? The Case for Total Abstinence." Masters offers helpful analysis on this issue coming at it from an entirely different angle.

We both, however, end with the same conclusion. Plus Masters would be a good balance to Ken Gentry which, I'd bet a week's worth of Starbucks, D.J., you've read Gentry.

Third, I'm glad you're courageous enough to admit you openly drink alcohol and apparently have enjoyed the experience while maintaining control. Good for you. On the other hand, twice in the comments above (if I recall correctly), especially in dialog with David, you appeared to make a huge point of bias the "abstinence" scholars had, assuming by making such a point, that they possibly favored their position on the issue because of their bias. If I'm incorrect, then I'd be open to knowing why that was a possible point you pursued.

If I am correct, then I must now query why we should not take your thoughts as biased since you obviously have a taste for and the enjoyable experience of alcoholic beverages?

Fourth, as for your criticism of my equation of intoxicating substances (alcohol/pot), I have to say you offer no real challenge to that part of my little essay. Not only is it questionable to broadly assert "it is possible to drink one beer without becoming intoxicated," but to also contrarily suggest one cannot smoke one joint without becoming intoxicated hardly strike at the issue I raised.

The former not only begs the question (it assumes moderation to be the correct view, the very proposition under discussion) but it reduces to a totally moot moral assertion. I can state it's possible to jump off a 20 story building without killing yourself. What morally follows from such a statement?

As for being intoxicated from smoking but one joint, even if we granted such--which I am not, exception for argument's sake--this too is irrelevant to my point. You wrongly assume the ration to be 1 beer = 1 joint. However, quantities must be on a continuum here. In other words, 1 beer may equal 1/2 joint. Hence, the pleasure principle slips over line of demarcation at the 1/2 joint mark. With that in mind, pot use is not pot abuse at 1/2 joint. Hope this helps to see your point is not well taken. Indeed you even similarly argued this point yourself in your last paragraph, did you not(10:2 glasses)?

Fifth, your equating intoxication with drunkenness makes no moral sense. Nor does it make biblical sense. Nor do our drinking laws have a flat line on consuming intoxicants. If intoxication = drunkenness as you assert, D.J., your moderation position just collapsed in on itself. Even so, unless you can demonstrate a workable definition which can guide drinkers toward the point when moderation ends and non-moderation begins, you're position has little to commend it.

Sixth, the purpose in offering a broad sweep of Scripture was neither to wed abstinence to alcohol (i.e, give a string of proof texts) nor to avoid offering specific examples of prohibitions against alcohol. Nor, D.J. do my essays remotely do as you assert: "You admit that Scripture never prohibits the use of alcoholic beverages, only intoxication." If you could point me to my strangely assertion I do not recall writing I'm all ears.

Rather my purpose was twofold: a)propose the biblical trajectory for the moral principle abstinence which I think needs desperately to be stated. And, by demonstrating the moral principle of abstinence, I hope I challenged the moderation readers, if possible, to similarly propose a biblical trajectory for the moral principle of moderation;

b) to show one of the most common objections against abstinence (i.e. "Where in the Bible does it say, 'Thou shalt not drink wine?'"). Lo and behold, D.J. you turn right around and assert that very question through the backdoor: "You admit that Scripture never prohibits the use of alcoholic beverages..." Your reasoning for the assertion I've already dealt with above.

Even so, indicative of my mini-series, it was that I could not marshal some hefty passages which specifically address the issue at hand, it is that I did not. I went a broader, more fundamental route--whether the best route or not I do not claim.

Seventh, you assert that "the pervasiveness of alcohol use by believers in Scripture (and yes, the commendations of it in passages like the above-mentioned Deut and Psalms verses), lends great credence to the moderationist postition and places a high burden of proof on the abstentionist." D.J., you mentioned earlier concerning the more "consistent" hermeneutics, etc which may be lacking in abstinence adherence. May I suggest, you do a quick glance on your own.

Hence, if I may just select one thing off the top of my head and insert it in your statement above, let's see if it makes sense to you:

the pervasiveness of owning slaves by believers in Scripture (and yes, the commendations of it in passages like Gen 16 and Exod verses), lends great credence to the pre-civil war South postition and places a high burden of proof on the abolitionist.

I think I've covered most of the questions you raised, D.J. Thanks for the interaction.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter

All

I'll be out a spell. Please be nice.

With that, I am...
Peter

David R. Brumbelow

Peter,
Your example of slavery is excellent.

I believe a strong biblical case can be made against drinking, both directly and indirectly.
David R. Brumbelow

D.J. Williams

Peter,

Not accusing you of pushing the book at all. Just wanted to be honest enough to state that the chances of me reading it are slim. That doesn't mean I'm not open to being proven wrong, it just means that what I've read from you so far doesn't give me confidence that the book will be worth my cash. Please understand that I don't mean that as a personal slam in any way, but simply to say that I haven't seen anything yet that's any different from every other abstentionist arguments I've heard. For what it's worth, while I've read some excerpts from Gentry (just as I've also read excerpts from abstentionists), I haven't actually read his book either. I'll look into Masters, and I'll check out anything you've written on the web.

And yes, everyone brings bias to the table, myself included. However, there's a difference between pointing out bias and asserting that everyone who argues for alcohol moderation does so to either justify known sin, be "cool", or shrink from preaching the truth because of the fear of man - all of which are plainly sinful motivations. I attempted to point out bias, David accused me of sinful motives for making my argument. I think the difference is plain. At any rate, if I came off as implying that I think abstentionist scholars are inherently untrustworthy, that was not my intent, nor is it my belief. My point was simply that if a great majority of scholars translate a word one way, and the only ones in the minority view have a vested doctrinal interest in the alternate translation, that makes me skeptical. It's similar in principle for me to John 1:1, where the vast majority of scholars agree on the standard translation and the only ones in disagreement are Jehovah's Witnesses.

As for much of your response, I think we may be confusing terms, because I had a lot of trouble following what you were trying to say. Here are a couple attempts to clarify...

- I'm using 'intoxication' in its dictionary sense of meaning "inebriation, drunkenness." You seem to be using it differently. What do you mean by intoxicated?

- Thus, my assertion that "it is possible to drink one beer without being intoxicated." I would hope this is pretty evident from both a legal and practical standpoint.

- You said, "You wrongly assume the ration to be 1 beer = 1 joint." I did not. My point was thus...

1) The Bible condemns drunkenness (intoxication).
2) One beer does not cause one to be intoxicated.
3) One joint does cause one to be intoxicated (like I said, I don't know, but I've never heard of anyone smoking pot and not getting high, so I'm going with that assumption).
4) Therefore, I would be comfortable saying that smoking one joint (the hypothetical "marijuana in moderation") is sinful while drinking one beer (alcohol in moderation) is not. This is my answer to your concern that advocating moderation with alcohol would make it impossible for one to advocate abstinence with other substances, such as marijuana. Does that make more sense?

- You said, "Fifth, your equating intoxication with drunkenness makes no moral sense." Again, I'm going by the dictionary def. of intoxication, so I don't get your objection here. You continued, "If intoxication = drunkenness as you assert, D.J., your moderation position just collapsed in on itself." I don't follow this at all, so I'm hoping your working definition of intoxication will help me see your point.

- You point out that your purpose with Eden, worship, etc. were to point out the biblical trajectory of the principle of abstinence. I would contend that the only trajectory you demonstrated is that we should abstain from things that Scripture commands us to abstain from (which was the case in each example). Thus, if Scripture commands us to abstain from all alcohol, we absolutely should. If it doesn't, then you've got no ground to stand on (and should be fearful of adding to God's perfect word).

- I assumed that your addressing of the "no prohibitive passages" issue was an admission that you agree there are none. It seems I was mistaken, so I apologize for the assumption. If you believe there are such passages, then I'm all ears.

- Finally, you said...
"Hence, if I may just select one thing off the top of my head and insert it in your statement above, let's see if it makes sense to you:

the pervasiveness of owning slaves by believers in Scripture (and yes, the commendations of it in passages like Gen 16 and Exod verses), lends great credence to the pre-civil war South postition and places a high burden of proof on the abolitionist."

I would say that if slavery in the pre-civil war South was exactly the same as the slavery described in God's word and if those passages you mentioned were actuall commendations rather than a descriptive passage and governing laws, then yes, that should have made the abolitionists stop and think carefully and critically. That, however, was not the case.

Thanks for the good discussion, Peter. I've enjoyed it.

Scott Slayton

volfan,
You left out d) They are convinced that Scripture supports their position.

peter

David,

Thanks. Interestingly, the third essay I wrote was an attempt to argue indirectly the moral principle of abstinence embedded in the biblical text. However, I think that squeezed right by our D. J.

All,

Sorry to be so long back. What a day.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter

D.J. Thanks. I too appreciate the exchange. One thing if you do log back on, D.J.: let's drop the tit/tat on my book. Deal?

On the other hand, since you took the time to a) state you've only read "some excerpts" from Gentry and b) from what I gather at least, you've never even heard of Masters' volume, I'd be interested to know just whom you have read on this subject. Let me be clear: it's not a 'gotcha' question, I assure. I'm just wondering since you are apparently unfamiliar with 2 of the better volumes from each side, to what extent you've gone to explore this subject.

Incidentally, I heard a sermon yesterday from a very influential young Baptists who takes the M position, insisting he'd studied this issue more than any other issue since 2005. I was excited until he stated "my" side. I couldn't believe my ears. It was pretty bad.

Oh,and for the record, since you seem to indicate my essays offered nothing new that you've not heard before--not to sound 'high & mighty' or anything please know--but I'll give you a shiny new nickel for every abstinence author you've read or can locate who attempts to work out a full-blown abstinence ethic like I attempted in part III (of course I have a longer version but I can’t tell you where :^). If you've heard and read it so much before, please give me some direction where I may locate it.

Now on to your response.

First, you rightly concede my point that "everyone brings bias to the table" but then completely botch it with your "however." While I agree there's a difference in "pointing out bias" on the one hand and moderationists "justifying known sin" and/or possessing "sinful motivations" on the other.  Fair enough.  But why on earth would you respond to me with that? I brought up no such thing; implied no such thing; I think no such thing.  You do mention David's comment, but you need to take that up with him, bro.

Second, I'm glad you clarified you did not mean to imply abstentionist scholars are inherently untrustworthy. Agreed. But I'll be, D.J., if you didn't turn right around and ruin that as well. You wrote:

“My point was simply that if a great majority of scholars translate a word one way, and the only ones in the minority view have a vested doctrinal interest in the alternate translation, that makes me skeptical. It's similar in principle for me to John 1:1, where the vast majority of scholars agree on the standard translation and the only ones in disagreement are Jehovah's Witnesses.”

A) Why would you assume “the only ones in the minority view” are also the ones “vested  [in]doctrinal interest [for] the alternate translation”?  How could you make such a judgment?  Why couldn’t the majority be “vested” in a “doctrinal interest”?  Once again, D.J. just as you did with David’s contribution, you appear to pooh-pooh scholars who do not come down on your side, and do so arbitrarily

B) Worse, however, is your absolutely horrible example:  “It's similar in principle for me to John 1:1, where the vast majority of scholars agree on the standard translation and the only ones in disagreement are Jehovah's Witnesses.” First, JWs disagree with alot more than J11 as you well know.  Second, no one knows who the translators of the NWT are nor even if actual scholars worked on the NWT.  They are kept secret big time.  Third, to compare abstentionists to JWs is hardly persuasive, D.J.  In point of fact, it’s offensive.  No stretch in my view can justify the analogy to bear resemblance to what I think you want to say. Finally, there are no loyalties to my knowledge that can be exploited on this issue of scholarly discussion.

Third, if you are confused about what I am trying to say, the best way to clear that up is ask.  However, “As for <b>much of your response</b>?  Really?  I’m not sure whether to respond any more on not frankly.  If much of my response was confusing, I’m surely now confused why you continued responding on and on ;^)

Fourth, you can use “intoxication” and “drunkenness” in their “dictionary meanings” as synonyms if you like.  But I’m afraid we’re not going to get very far.  Both these terms are greased pigs really, and cannot be used, it seems to me in static fashion.  There’s got to be allowances for degrees of inebriation on a continuum. I’ll explain that later.  But if we’re only going to pop a lexical meaning out of the dictionary for these terms, the discussion immediately stalls.

In fact, that’s why I think your thinking on this issue is misguided, D.J.  Allow me.

You:  “my assertion [is] that "it is possible to drink one beer without being intoxicated" You think that’s ‘pretty self evident’.  Well, it’s disputable to be sure.  Studies show 1 drink (1.5oz alcohol) = 1 beer = 1 mix = 1 glass wine shows toxic levels of alcohol in the blood within 3-5 minutes. In addition, .03 level of alcohol in the bloodstream is all it takes in a normal sized person to begin to produce invisible results—slowed reflexes, emotional changes, etc.  Now, that’s not universally true.  Lots of other factors come into play—weight, time of day, stress level, etc etc.  But what that does show is the potency of alcohol.  Oh, I forgot to mention:  1 drink is known to cause this the average size adult.   One other thing:  the very first symptoms are effects on the brain.  And, studies demonstrate drinkers do not know,  and they all but universally deny they are being affected by the alcohol they are imbibing. How familiar some of this sounds to my own experience. 

Even so, D.J, I mentioned earlier not only does your assertion "it is possible to drink one beer without being intoxicated" beg the question, but also nothing morally follows from it.  I could say it’s possible to walk out in front of an 18 wheeler and not be killed.  So?  Employing the “possible” is a poor way to speak about ethics.

Fifth, after suggesting I got your assumption wrong, you write out in numbered form your basic argument and query if it makes more sense:

“1) The Bible condemns drunkenness (intoxication).”  Without a doubt.  No argument

“2) One beer does not cause one to be intoxicated.” You’ve now strengthened your former assertion to this statement.  Whereas before I would concede it’s possible but disputable, you’ve now made your former assertion into an assertion dead wrong.  Not only does one beer intoxicate to some degree, it potentially can throw some people on their rear-end.

“3) One joint does cause one to be intoxicated (like I said, I don't know, but I've never heard of anyone smoking pot and not getting high, so I'm going with that assumption).” This is the difficulty I have in arguing this point with you, D.J.  You not only strongly insist  the analogy I made between pot and alcohol is bogus,  you make as strong an assertion about a substance you openly concede you have no real knowledge.  Why would you proceed to argue against a point when you admit you don’t even know?  In fact, it is at this point, I’ll just say, I’m through with this discussion with you.  Arguing from ignorance is not a very becoming practice.

But, for the record, marijuana usage is in many respects similar to the way alcohol content in beers, wines, etc affects the user.  Whereas in bottled drinks, its ethanol alcohol that rushes to the brain, in marijuana it’s delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or what’s commonly known as (THC).  Like alcohol it affects the brain.  Depending on the way marijuana is consumed—smoked, baked & ate, brewed in tea, etc—as well as the THC level, determines how potent the discharge is on the user.

Concerning marijuana consumption, and, even though it’s considered illicit, the same terminology use and abuse is applicable in scientific studies.

All of that to say, it’s beyond dispute, given the evidence, that if a person can drink beer moderately and leisurely, there is no moral reason why a person cannot consume marijuana moderately and leisurely. If one is moral, so is the other—in moderate amounts, of course.    

Wishing you the best.

With that, I am…

Peter

D.J. Williams

Peter,

After reading your response, we seem to be pretty far apart even in our terminology (when the dictionary definition of a word can't even be agreed upon, I don't really know how much discussion is possible). Even what I'd consider my most fundamental points aren't being understood, so I don't think it'll be fruitful to try to keep explaining them. Thanks for the interchange and have a good weekend.

peter

D.J.

Yes, we are far apart.

So's those who read this thread can understand, however: 1) employing a hard lexical definition for a word scientific studies use in non-static ways will stall the discussion every-time 2) for the record, D.J.'s points were being understood. I can't think off the top of my head something I completely did not understand D.J. to be saying. And when I offered a response, as many times as not, as I recall, it was ignored

I do recall vividly, however, D.J. changing his wording on one of his significant assertions. Throughout the exchange, D.J. asserted: :

"it is possible to drink one beer without being intoxicated"
However, his last comment changed it significantly:
"One beer does not cause one to be intoxicated."

As close as D.J. may think the two propositions are, I assure you the two are hardly alike. Affirming the possibility of remaining sober after one beer cannot be equated with asserting one beer does not cause intoxication. It would be like suggesting the possibility of remaining alive after walking in front of a Mack truck is equated with asserting walking in front of a Mack truck does not cause death.

While granting the former statement is true enough in itself, nothing follows morally from it. So it's possible to drink a beer w/o drunkenness? It's possible to walk in front of a mack w/o death. No moral imperative is necessarily drawn in either.

On the other hand, on D.J.'s last attempt to clear up the confusion, he significantly changed his assertion to: "One beer does not cause one to be intoxicated." While sobriety was but a sheer possibility before--"it is possible to drink one beer without being intoxicated"--sobriety becomes a foregone conclusion now--"One beer does not cause one to be intoxicated." A conclusion, shown to be completely out of touch with what we know about the potency of alcohol.

Finally, D.J, for you to leave here concluding that because we are so far apart, implying an exchange is fruitless not only because we won't use websters dictionary to settle our disputes, but also because you feel your fundamental points are just not understood by me (and perhaps others) is, how does one say it, rather convenient.

Even your own admission of ignorance while attempting to criticize my thoughts on the similarities between alcohol & marijuana are perhaps more telling signs as to why this exchange has been fruitless than the reason being I or anyone else here has not grasped your fundamental points. I hope you'll consider that before you log on again.

As a parting shot, you simply ignored the thrust of your failed hermeneutic shown by merely substituting slavery in your example. But rather than show how the positive affirmation of your original example works--which was the point--you simply dismissed the slavery analogy with the stroke of a pen.

Interestingly, slavery has a richly deeply woven thread within the text of Scripture, not only in descriptive passages but in didactic passages as well. That's why it's an excruciatingly difficult question to answer & comes up often from skeptics in the liberal arts.

It is also why admirable men--men like J.L.Dagg--insisted the Bible did not condemn the use (i.e. ownership) of slaves but the Bible condemned the abuse of slaves. Ever heard the use but not abuse distinction before?

In fact, most answers concerning slavery and the Bible from conservative ethicists focus on ethical solutions stemming from indirect moral principles derived elsewhere from Scripture, a moral trajectory so to speak. There are no "Thou shalt not own slaves" in the Bible.

Given your stated hesitancy toward accepting a similar method of moral argumentation I attempted concerning abstinence--one almost identical in model to the way scholars approach anti-slavery--would you pooh-pooh ehticists' making a comprehensive indirect biblical argument against slavery as well? If so, I'd love to see your case against owning slaves.

And, so far as your statement "the pervasiveness of alcohol use by believers in Scripture...lends great credence to the moderationist postition and places a high burden of proof on the abstentionist" goes, I have to say, proves little toward moderation. Unless, of course, you can present one single passage where God told those imbibing drink to employ the "moral moderation principle" as moderationists such as yourself find revealed in Scripture. Now that would be a homerun, D.J.

Actually I'm surprised so many of the unnamed texts above (those texts about the drinking saints you mentioned) are apparently purely descriptive in nature, a criticism you leveled toward my insertion of slavery texts into your "drinking saints" example in order to expose it as bogus.

The bottom line is this: there are basically three sets of biblical passages pertaining to wine usage in the Bible:

a) the descriptive passages-- two subsets here 1) those purely descriptive passages which remain neutral about wine and/or wine usage 2) those purely descriptive passages which reveal the horrible effects of wine and/or usage

b) the commendatory passages--those passages where apparently wine and/or wine usage is viewed positively

c) the condemnatory passages--those passages where an unmistakable negative view is offered toward not only toward wine usage but also toward wine itself

Abstentionists such as myself have not a single reservation in accepting all three categories and attempting a comprehensive view of the biblical data.

On the other hand, many moderationists are not so open about doing so. Inevitably, they insist on the A & B above but can hardly find it in them to not only examine C passages above, but will, if allowed, collapse the latter passages into the former, completely scrubbing their explicit teachings.

Well, I am done now.

Grace, all.
With that, I am...
Peter

Rick

Much of this debate has centered on whether or not one drink results in intoxication, but what about the issue of whether or not one drink results in the slippery slope toward addiction? Relatives on both sides of my family of origin were alcoholics. Thus, if I want to obey the Biblical injunction not to get drunk, on a very practical level, I abstain. If I were to aim for moderation, I would almost certainly follow in the paths of my unwise forefathers, who discovered that what began as moderation ended up in alcoholic misery.

Fine, you say, that's my personal choice, not to be pushed upon others. My problem with that is that I have no idea where moderation will lead in their lives, either. However, I do know that abstinence will result in a lifestyle free from drunkenness, and therefore obedient to Scripture.

Steven

The above post by Rick has the right attitude. Many people in the WORLD try to quit drinking, and they don't do it by moderation. And yet some Christians try to tell everyone it's ok to start drinking.

Moderation is never viewed as a recommendation, but it is. Either you would recommend it, or you wouldn't. IF you wouldn't, why wouldn't you? And wouldn't that apply to those who currently drink as well?

We know soberness makes God happy, and drunkenness is wrong. You don't need a theological degree to know the best course of action.

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